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22 December 2008

Army Robots to Help Save Soldiers

The Army has been using robot technology for some time now, but they are currently developing a robot called Battlefield Extraction Assist Robot or BEAR, built by Vecna Technologies. While still a prototype, BEAR will be able to retrieve injured soldiers from the battlefield.

BEAR is built in a semi human form with eyes, ears and arms and is capable of lifting 250 pounds while standing on its toes. Outfitted with lights, two cameras and infrared capabilities, it can travel up to 10 MPH and is remotely operated.

Robots can be outfitted to accomplish various duties. One can detect 38 different kinds of chemical or biological explosives from 3 to 5 meters and can be used to scan car doors or trunk lids for explosives or chemical residue.

About 10,000 robots are expected to be deployed in 2009. Packbot, already deployed in Iraq, is used for surveillance, reconnaissance and explosive removal. Packbot can be outfitted to react to voice commands given remotely through an earpiece.

Some robots can be outfitted with a retractable mast called a zipper mast or situational awareness mast. These mast are equipped with cameras or communications devices that can peer over a wall without risking a soldier.

Star Wars had a lot of foresight, robot warriors are on their way. Or is the military copying the movies?

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