While grand-scale robotics programs like DARPA's Big Dog project may spark our sci-fi fancy, they're still years away from the front lines. This half-pint unmanned ground vehicle, however, will immediately start saving lives by acting as a Special Forces scout.
Built by Roboteam, an Israeli defense contractor, and dubbed the "Micro Tactical Ground Robot" (MTGR), this lightweight UGV is designed for intelligence gathering and forward recon in rugged, mountainous terrain and urban combat scenarios. Tipping the scales at just 13 pounds thanks to its composite material chassis, the MTGR is less than half the weight of other climbing UGVs and is small enough to be ported by a single soldier.
But just because it's small doesn't mean it's dainty. The MTGR can ascend 60-degree slopes, and endure dusty and dank environments—as well as 10 meter falls. Its state-of-the-art motors generate large torque without sacrificing speed, giving the UGV both a top speed of 4 MPH and the ability to climb multiple flights of stairs and mount vertical obstacles. It's 18-inch clamoring arms also allow the MTGR to automatically upright itself if it lands on its side or is flipped on its back, like a robo-cockroach. Powered by a standard US military battery, the MTGR can also carry up to 10 pounds of payload—be it additional sensors, explosive charges, or a tactical manipulator for counter-IED or EOD operations.
While it's zipping through war zones, the MTGR is busy collecting audio and video surveillance. It's outfitted with a primary color video camera as well as four low-light CMOS sensors embedded around its chassis to provide a 360-degree worldview. In addition, it can be outfitted with a SAFIRE sensor, used for measuring the distance travelled during semi-autonomous patrols, to supplement its internal GPS and compass.
The MTGR utilizes a MANET (mobile ad hoc network) data link to communicate with its controller when operating indoors and can also connect to a Mobile MESH network. This ad hoc network uses each robot's onboard transceivers to create on-the-fly, encrypted networks, extending each UGV's operational range. The controller itself is a 7-inch touchscreen that runs on Windows 7 and operates up for to four hours on a single charge. It may not be as hefty as the Big Dog, but it sure is ready to fetch. [Roboteam 1, 2 - Defense Update - Shephard Media - University of Tehran - ASD News - Image: Roboteam]