We’ve seen flying robots – drones – spying on the enemy, and beefy tracked robots disabling IEDs. So why not the ultimate traveling ‘bot – one that’s thrown by soldiers? Don’t laugh – the Pentagon’s anti-IED shop is planning to send 400 tossbots to Afghanistan later this year in its push to curb the toll improvised explosive devices are taking on U.S. troops. In 2011, IEDs killed 252 of the 492 allied troops — more than half — of all those who died in action in Afghanistan.
The goal is to be able to scout out hiding places favored by both IEDs and the Taliban that plant them without risking troops’ lives in the process. That could mean actually throwing the ‘bot into walled compound for a quick look around.
Candidates slated for testing range from the 10-lb. QinetiQ’s Dragon Runner 10 mini-bulldozer (sore arm alert!) to the 1.2-lb. Recon Robotics’ ReconScout XT (featured in the video), which can be tossed more than 100 feet (in fact, Recon Robotics has sold 700 to the U.S. Army and — get this — has trademarked Throwbot).
“From the feedback of the users at Fort Benning and the reception from warfighters to the notion of being freed from the task of reconnaissance in dangerous urban environments, it is evident that the ThrowBot has shown considerable potential to assist the warfighter in-theatre, reducing the risk to US military and allied forces,” a 2005 Navy study concluded. “There are no significant technical barriers that would prevent the development of a tactically useful ThrowBot on a scale slightly larger than a cell phone.” h/t Ares