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Robotics United States

DARPA to Raise Robot LANdroid Army 127

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the hey-baby-wanna-destroy-all-humans dept.
Banekartr writes "The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency plans to develop a fleet of robots that soldiers can deploy in urban combat settings as they move through houses and along streets. The program, dubbed LANdroid, envisions miniature autonomous drones that can form a network capable of relaying radio traffic in a setting often considered challenging for communications equipment. According to a notional image of a LANdroid included in a DARPA pamphlet, each robot will be about the size of a deck of cards, and must be rugged, lightweight and able to operate for seven to 14 days, the agency said. Demand for technologies to improve the military's ability to fight in urban settings has increased in recent years because many of the operations in Iraq take place in Baghdad and other Iraqi metropolitan settings. DARPA officials will provide additional information about the program during a July 6 industry day."
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DARPA to Raise Robot LANdroid Army

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  • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:35AM (#19580745) Homepage

    I think they see these operational in active combat zones. Not sure how many kids are running around smashing stuff when there's live fire a block over.

    Hopefully that's true. But, I don't get the impression that when there's a running firefight in urban parts of Baghdad that they've managed to clear out all of the civilians. In some places (maybe not Iraq, I don't know), the kids are sadly participating in the live fire.

    When you're battling an insurgency/non-traditional forces, they don't always clear everything out in advance so it's a nice sterile combat zone of good guys and bad guys. I suspect a lot of civilians end up trying to stay the hell out of the way to varying degrees of success.

    Cheers
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @11:40AM (#19580859)
    Our armies are not designed to be police forces that occupy cities.

    This is not a technical problem that robots will solve.
  • Re:To Serve Man (Score:3, Informative)

    by quanticle (843097) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @12:22PM (#19581749) Homepage

    just abandon them in place afterwards.

    That may not be a good idea, since enemy forces could just then grab the abandoned droids, and use them to listen in or jam our communications. A better idea would be a self-destruct mechanism of some kind, to prevent capture.

    Also, does anyone else think that these LANDroids sound a lot like the Probe Droids from Empire Strikes Back?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @01:05PM (#19582585)
    In the PDF they specifically mention the two reasons for wheels/tracks (doesn't matter which for the project, just that it's able ot move):
    • Fine tuning of signal strength. If you think this is not a significant advantage, you haven't spent much time trying to find the strongest signal for a particular location. Just because your home wifi is 'good enough' for your purposes, doesn't mean it couldn't be a lot better 2 inches to the North. This is very significant when you realize that these units will be deployed by soldiers willy nilly as they run around - the soldiers are specifically NOT required to 'find the best wireless spot'. They can drop the units as they run, and the units will take off on their own to build the best mesh they can.
    • Repair of the mesh when a node goes down. So if Node 7 goes down, then Node 8 and 9 will try to find a better position for themselves to provide coverage where Node 7 was. Along with this they propose to follow a soldier - so they get better coverage as they move about.
    Btw, they are disposable - there is no plan for them to drive home. They also aren't required to manage stairs or debris fields - flat relatively benign surfaces only, though they are required to be able to navigate around obstructions.
  • by rs232 (849320) on Wednesday June 20, 2007 @01:11PM (#19582691)
    "You're right. I mean, they have an advantage; they don't value human life. Makes it a lot easier for them then us; We should just give in and let them conquer the world, like the Quran tells them to"

    There was *no* danger of terrorism attacks coming from Iraq as Saddam Hussein kept the Islamic fundamentalists firmly under his thumb. And back when he invaded Iran, he was still one of Americas favourite dictators in the middle east. It was only after he invaded Kuwait that he became Americas second biggest bogey man.

    "They" value human life the same as the next man, but having grown up in a refugee camp being bombed from the air by helicopter gunship, they are likely to become a little desensitised. The scattered population of dispossessed Palestinians are going to be a threat long into the future.

    It was the US administration that promoted Islamic fundamentalism while it was usefully in pushing the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan. Bin Laden was specifically sent in to Afghanistan to organize the 'resistance'. Currently, Al Qaeda isn't so much an organization but an amalgam of remnants of these groups plus a distributed group of disaffected Muslims being fed poison by the religious leaders in so called religious schools (madras). This is the source of the current terrorist threat. As such blowing up some gook village in Iran is going to do squat to defeat terrorism.

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