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Foster-Miller MAARS (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System)  (Source: Wired's Danger Room)

  (Source: Wired's Danger Room)
Foster-Miller's MAARS system cuts down on friendly-fire accidents

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.

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By RMSe17 on 10/10/2007 9:30:11 AM , Rating: 2
I hope the enemy is not smart enough to break these protective measures of targeting. (or reverse them)

RE: interesting...
By murphyslabrat on 10/10/2007 2:50:41 PM , Rating: 2
Quite simple to do, at least in the event of having taken a US position, just carry the GPS transceiver with you. Voila, no robo-butts shooting at me now! Or, just camp that position and wait for the soldiers to respawn! The turrets won't even shoot at you, cause you're in a friendly position!

Seriously, though, it needs to be flexible. Like, as opposed to a "can't shoot that way" system, just give a warning on the heads-up display that there is a friendly position in your line-of-fire.

Kind of like the OICW rifle, if an enemy stole a US soldiers uniform, then they are, in essence, invincible to anything short of traditional grenades (as the internal grenade launcher will not fire either). Or, as was mentioned earlier, what if you need to defend a friendly position that is being over-run? Kinda screwed there.

BTW, this is not to say that I am against anti-friendly-fire mechanisms; just that, like any other computer system, can be exploited. I consider it my duty to somehow "break" any game I play. Only here, it gets more serious, as lives are at stake.

"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates
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