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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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