The advancement of battlefield robots is progressing nicely
at the Department of Defense. iRobot has already showcased its REDOWL-equipped PackBot
which can detect enemy gunfire and the company's SUGV
Early is a lightweight variant which is "backpackable."
Foster-Miller is upping the ante a bit with its new MAARS
(Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System) robot which aims to eliminate – or at
least drastically reduce -- friendly-fire accidents. The 350-pound MAARS uses
sophisticated software and GPS positioning to determine where friendly soldiers
are located on the battlefield. Once programmed into the MAARS, the robot's
machine gun is prevented from aiming towards friendly positions.
According to the Danger Room,
MAARS is likewise pre-programmed to not fire on its control station where a
soldier controls the unit.
The MAARS is also highly configurable based on battlefield
needs. The standard tracks can be swapped out for wheels should the unit need
to operate strictly in urban environments. The M240B Medium Machine Gun
can also be swapped out for a control arm to lift items (100 pound capacity) detect/defuse roadside
bombs or drag wounded soldiers out harm's way.
"Foster-Miller is proud to introduce the new MAARS
robot to the US Military personnel who risk their lives every day defending our
freedom," stated Dr. William Ribich, President of QinetiQ's Technology
Solutions Group. "The challenge
before us now isn’t technological in nature but rather the widespread training
of our forces to use this greatly enhanced robotic capability."
Any machine that can keep human soldiers out of direct
combat situations is welcomed by the military, so the upgraded fail-safes
included with the MAARS is a welcome addition.
quote: Eliminating friendly fire is a good thing, but if it were me, and I was going to die on the battlefield, being "killed by armed robot" would be a pretty cool way to go.