The Future of Robotics on Combat Fields

The Future of Robotics on Combat Fields

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The U S Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) is the research division for combat uses for robots. News reports cover robots already deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan as unmanned aerial vehicles. The FCS has ground robots on the battlefields now.

The most portable robot is the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV). It was developed by Boeing and iRobot as a surveillance robot. It uses treads for locomotion and weighs less than 30 pounds. Any soldier can carry the SUGV and its remote controls in one backpack. It can be fitted with cameras, laser range finders and chemical detection systems.

Its ability to travel in confided spaces such as tunnels and pipes allows the SUGV to go places the smallest of soldiers could not enter. The SUGV’s tread locomotion system also allows it to climb stairs. The Army uses it for urban warfare operations. Several US public safety organizations use them as well.

SUGVs protect soldiers and first responders from harm by gathering situation awareness without exposing people to the dangers of combat front lines or public safety operations such as fires, hostage situations and hazardous materials accidents.

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Hands down the best advice I ever received was, 'The longest way begins with one step'. I have always been drawn to figuring out what makes things work and how they are put together. In high school I had the opportunity to take part in several science fair projects that allowed me to see first hand what engineering really was. It was great to take a question and systematically evaluate the validity of a solution.