Saturday, June 09, 2007

Army developing rescue robot

"I WILL never leave a fallen comrade." So states the US Soldier's Creed, and true to that vow, 22-year-old Sergeant Justin Wisniewski died in Iraq last month while searching for soldiers abducted during an ambush on 12 May.

A remote-controlled robot that will rescue injured or abducted soldiers, without putting the lives of their comrades at risk, is being developed for the US army. The 1.8-metre-tall Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (Bear) will be able to travel over bumpy terrain and squeeze through doorways while carrying an injured soldier in its arms.

The prototype Bear torso can lift more than 135 kilograms with one arm, and its developer, Vecna Technologies of College Park, Maryland, is now focusing on improving its two-legged lower body. The robot recently showed how it can climb up and down stairs with a human-size dummy in its arms.

"We saw a need for a robot that can essentially go where a human can," says Daniel Theobald, Vecna's president. But Bear can also do things no human can, such as carrying heavy loads over considerable distances without tiring. The robot can also carry an injured soldier while kneeling or lying down, enabling it to move through tall grass or behind a wall without being spotted.

Read the rest at New Scientist