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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Robot Army

U.S. Army ordered more than 1700 for 15 brigades, a potential human-to-robot ratio of 29:1 | Deployment: Ready for combat as early as 2014 | Models: Half will be armed; the rest will clear minefields and haul gear | Cargo capability: 1800 to 2000 pounds | Weapons: Four antitank Javelin missiles and a turret-mounted M240 machine gun.

Popular Mechanics explores the increasing level of reliance the US military has when it comes to robotic assistance. In the last few years, robot drones have reached an all-new level of sophistication, with several models already deployed in the field. Now, the next generation of robot helpers is nearing the end of its test phase. PM offers up a preview of what we could expect to see in the field within the next five years.
"The MULE (Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment) is roughly the size of a Humvee, but it has a trick worthy of monster truck rallies. Each of its six wheels is mounted on an articulated leg, allowing the robot to clamber up obstacles that other cars would simply bump against ... Barely a year old, the prototype is a product of the Army's Unmanned Ground Vehicle program, which began in 2001. It has yet to fire a single bullet or missile, or even be fitted with a weapon. Here at the test track it's loaded down with rucksacks and boxes, two squads' worth of equipment."

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