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Medicine Robotics The Military Hardware

BEAR Robot Designed To Rescue Wounded Soldiers 104

Posted by samzenpus
from the ursine-rescue dept.
Zothecula writes "The US Army is currently testing a robot designed to locate, lift, and carry wounded soldiers out of harm's way without risking additional lives. With feedback from its on-board sensors and cameras, the Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (BEAR) can be remotely controlled through the use of a special M-4 rifle grip controller or by hand gestures using an AnthroTronix iGlove motion glove. This equipment would allow a soldier to direct BEAR to a wounded soldier and transport them to safety where they can be assessed by a combat medic."
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BEAR Robot Designed To Rescue Wounded Soldiers

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  • Shardik? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by No Lucifer (1620685)
    "See the BEAR of fearsome size, all the world's within his eyes..."
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @09:43PM (#34346838)

    "What is the number of your life insurance policy?"

    • "What is the number of your life insurance policy?"

      "Before I treat you, please confirm you are not openly gay."

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MichaelSmith (789609)

        "What is the number of your life insurance policy?"

        "Before I treat you, please confirm you are not openly gay."

        You are not supposed to ask that.

        • by c6gunner (950153)

          No, you're not supposed to ask if they're gay. Asking if they're openly gay would just be a way of confirming whether they're keeping up the "don't tell" side of the bargain :)

        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          "What is the number of your life insurance policy?"

          "Before I treat you, please confirm you are not openly gay."

          You are not supposed to ask that.

          Those rules only apply to humans. A robot can ask perfectly well, since it's hardly going to be called to the witless stand, is it? Any more than a piece of cloth is going to be arrested for participating in waterboarding.

  • Combat situation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cosm (1072588) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (3msoceht)> on Thursday November 25, 2010 @09:45PM (#34346844)
    In under-fire situations, I understand the need to reduce casualties. Can this thing move fast enough to really get the job done? I mean, its not like our guys are fighting in speed-ball arenas, with nice and neat little pathways to the downed. Much of the time the terrain is shelled, broken remnants of buildings, cars, misc. crap is scattered everywhere, and tracked-robot friendly areas seem sparse. What about mountain fighting? If I were the Taliban (there I said it, fuck you Medal of Honor), I would target these things, they would stick out like a sore thumb. Its not like 'not shooting medics' has ever really been respected lately (by both sides).
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Wouldn't it make sense to carry the soldier inside an armoured cavity? That way the soldier is protected as soon as the robot arrives. I wouldn't want to be in this robot's arms, being carried though live fire. "Sitting duck" comes to mind. It would also be nice if the lifting could be done in a way that would not exacerbate a spinal injury. Why not put an air skirt around the soldier, and lift him on a bed of air?
      • by Nursie (632944)

        Only problem with that is if BEAR gets damaged. The soldier is then trapped.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ihmhi (1206036)

        If you do that then the soldiers might start asking why they're not outfitted with better armor in the first place.

        • by sco08y (615665)

          If you do that then the soldiers might start asking why they're not outfitted with better armor in the first place.

          Not likely. Most guys, if they can, try to avoid wearing the extra bits like DAPS because it's already too heavy and restrictive.

          • by Ihmhi (1206036)

            Sort of reminds me of the scene where the guy took out the back plate of his vest only to end up shot in the back.

            I would understand maybe special ops like Delta Force, SEALS, SAS, etc. going in with light armor - after all, they typically move hard and fast and in small teams. If they get into a large direct firefight then they're doing their job wrong.

            But honestly, a soldier going into combat without adequate armor is like a soldier going into combat with just a handgun. He'd get berated if he didn't have

        • by RockDoctor (15477)

          If you do that then the soldiers might start asking

          Stop right there, soldier. You're not supposed to ask ; you're supposed to DO!

          Now get down and give me twenty!

          No, no, push-ups! Are you angling for a discharge? Or a job in the TSA?

      • by couchslug (175151)

        "Why not put an air skirt around the soldier, and lift him on a bed of air?"

        Hills and ditches and lumps and bumps would defeat that in short order. There is good reason hovercraft are used only over water or flat ground.

    • I envisaged something which you would ride inside protected somewhat from hazards. I don't see the benefit in looking a bit like a human.

    • Even the nazis didn't shoot medics (on occasion). Oh and hey guy: medics don't "reduce casualties", they merely attempt to take care of the ones that do occur. This is merely an extension of getting robots to do dangerous, dirty, and replaceable jobs. [apologies to real military medics, you people are angels]

      In addition, I'm additionally curious - how would you distinguish a Taliban medic? Do they wear Red Cross armbands? Errr....no. The Cross is a symbol of the hated infidel. (Awkward) Which country

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by MichaelSmith (789609)

        how would you distinguish a Taliban medic? Do they wear Red Cross armbands?

        Red crescent more likely.

        • Don't waste your breath. The remark you're quibbling about is embedded in an entire paragraph that argues against worrying about the international laws of civilized warfare. Just be grateful that the little thug mastered basic literacy and hope he enjoys his TSA handjob over the holidays.

          • Soooo many unspoken assumptions in that post. Let's review them one by one, shall we?

            1) The Taliban worries about the international laws of civilized warfare. LOL. When did they become civilized, much less sign treaties?
            2) Anyone who disagrees with me must be a thug.
            3) Such a person must live in America and endure frequent air travel.
            4) Such a person celebrates American Christan-based "holidays".

            Aren't culturally-based assumptions fun? Sorry, I'll stop injecting inconvenient truths into internet di

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
          Spoken as a true ignorant. Lemme check the website [ifrc.org]. Nope! I don't see Taliban listed anywhere. I see the League of Arab States, but the Taliban aren't Arabs. It seems the Red Cross are training Taliban [telegraph.co.uk]. *awkward cough* *tumbleweed*
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by MichaelSmith (789609)

            We seem to be in agreement. Red cresent and red cross are essentially the same thing. Red cross is training people in Taliban areas to give first aid. US military medics don't work for the red cross, even if they (like myself) had some training from that organization.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by nbauman (624611)

            It seems the Red Cross are training Taliban [telegraph.co.uk]. *awkward cough* *tumbleweed*

            That's right. The ICRC is an international humanitarian organization, which has a policy of neutrality. Their only goal is to save lives, without regard to political affiliation. They provide medical assistance to both the Afghan government and the Taliban. NATO accepts that.

            The ICRC comes in pretty handy when the NATO governments have to deal with the Taliban, for example in prisoner exchanges, locating kidnap victims, or in their eventual peace negotiations.

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            Spoken as a true ignorant. Lemme check the website [ifrc.org]. Nope! I don't see Taliban listed anywhere. I see the League of Arab States, but the Taliban aren't Arabs. It seems the Red Cross are training Taliban [telegraph.co.uk]. *awkward cough* *tumbleweed*

            Your first link is to the site of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, i.e. they are essentially interchangeable. GP was answering your point that it would be awkward for the Taliban to use the Red Cross, but it is no more ignorant to say they use the Red Crescent than the Red Cross.

            As for your second statement, the job of the Red Cross is to help save lives, not decide that some are more worthy than others. An injured Taliban fighter has as much right to medical assistan

      • by nbauman (624611)

        Here's a link to a story [samaa.tv] about a wounded Taliban commander. The Taliban kidnapped a civilian doctor from a hospital and demanded he treat their man at gunpoint. What does that say about your mythical Taliban medics and "both sides" violating some sort of made-up restrictions?

        They didn't have to kidnap doctors. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) was serving in Afghanistan for 30 years. They provided care from their clinics to everyone in need, without regard to political affiliations. They were scrupulously neutral and refused to align themselves with either side. They contacted the village elders and other local contacts in the communities they worked in, and through those local contacts they arranged permission from the Taliban and other parties to the combat.

        MSF did have one rule:

        • They didn't have to kidnap doctors.

          Dude, you didn't even read the ****ing story. "A doctor was kidnapped from Hango for treating the TTP chief." What part of that do you not understand? How do you ever expect anyone to ever take you seriously with that intentionally blinkered attitude?

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            They didn't have to kidnap doctors.

            Dude, you didn't even read the ****ing story. "A doctor was kidnapped from Hango for treating the TTP chief." What part of that do you not understand? How do you ever expect anyone to ever take you seriously with that intentionally blinkered attitude?

            GP was explaining that, if the US hadn't decided to politicise medical assistance, there wouldn't have been this story in the first place.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by nbauman (624611)

              GP was explaining that, if the US hadn't decided to politicise medical assistance, there wouldn't have been this story in the first place.

              That's right. The Taliban could have taken their commander to a Doctors Without Borders clinic, who would have treated him without regard to his politics, just as they treat everybody else.

          • by dave420 (699308)
            Did you see the words "have to" in that post? Apparently not.
        • by c6gunner (950153)

          Nonviolence works better than guns.

          If your goal is to provide medical assistance, sure. If your goal is to remove a government, not so much.

          • by nbauman (624611)

            The Coalition Forces haven't removed the Taliban in 9 years, and show no signs of doing so.

            In Iraq, I still don't know what the original goal was, but we replaced a brutal, efficient dictator with even more brutal, inefficient mob rule, reduced one of the most developed economies in the middle east to a third world country, and turned an enemy of Al Qaeda into a recruiting ground for Al Qaeda. Heckuva job, Bushie.

            There may be some limited circumstances when military violence is effective in achieving a legi

            • by c6gunner (950153)

              The Coalition Forces haven't removed the Taliban in 9 years, and show no signs of doing so.

              That is, in a word, retarded. I didn't bother reading the rest.

              • by nbauman (624611)

                "Retarded" seems to be rightwingspeak for "I don't agree with what you're saying, I can't respond with facts or logic, so I'll just insult you."

      • When did the government the Taliban represents sign the Geneva conventions?

        Signatories are obligated to apply these Conventions in conflict with non-signatory powers, as long as the opponents implicitly accept and apply them themselves. Now that may not be the case, but it is an important distinction, particularly since "the Taliban" are decentralized and don't have a legitimate authority that would be able to ratify and enforce such a treaty.

      • by nospam007 (722110) *

        'Even the nazis didn't shoot medics (on occasion)'

        Wounded soldiers are way more damaging to the enemy than dead ones.

        Dead ones get buried, most of them (drafted) not being married it's just that, no additional payments besides notifying the parents.

        Wounded soldiers need medical attention, food, shelter, payments, transport, helicopters, hospitals, prosthetics, doctors, nurses....

        And all that sometimes for years or decades.

      • by couchslug (175151)

        "how would you distinguish a Taliban medic? "

        By his uniform and marking with appropriate recognized symbols such as the Red Crescent. Otherwise he's an unlawful combatant/criminal/partisan.

        It used to be legal (quite reasonably) to shoot those without uniforms who were bearing arms on the field of battle on the spot. The movement, post-Nuremburg, to outlaw warfare by those who actually obey the laws of war (it's an opt-in thing) has since made things more difficult.

        The "benefit" of outlawing victory is long,

        • by Nursie (632944)

          I thought that was the benefit of going on wars of adventure with no clear goal. Oops, silly me, it's our respect for human life that holding us back from... imposing democracy on these people for their own good. What?

        • It used to be legal (quite reasonably) to shoot those without uniforms who were bearing arms on the field of battle on the spot.

          Indeed. How dare they resist our illegal invasion of their country without putting on a uniform first.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by physicsphairy (720718)

      If I were the Taliban, I would target these things, they would stick out like a sore thumb. Its not like 'not shooting medics' has ever really been respected lately (by both sides).

      I'm sure it can be made more discrete (more in the vein of a typical soldier, albeit identifiable by its weird movement). The Taliban can shoot at it all they want: it's ideal to have them shooting at the robot rather than anyone else. (Honestly that is a silly priority for them to have given that the 'anyone else' is likely to be trying to kill them.) Doubtless you can put a lot of armor on it. Even if they're making a point of trying to kill the wounded individual (again, a bad priority on their part)

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      My big question is, "How does this improve on our current capabilities?"

      Contrary to the parent's argument, robots are extremely effective at retrieving wounded soldiers (no we aren't fighting in shelled, battered urban terrain, this isn't Medal of Honor). We know this because we already have a robot that does this. The TALON robot's interrogator arm is strong enough to grip a soldier's gear and drag him out of danger. It wasn't designed or developed to do that, and its not one of its advertised capabilities

      • by tehcyder (746570)
        Don't you want to have some way of determining that it's appropriate to drag a wounded soldier along the ground? Wouldn't this sometimes cause more harm than good?
        • by LurkerXXX (667952)

          This is combat, with people shooting all the time at you. With judgment on to move you or not being done by fellow soldiers, with *some* medical training if you are lucky enough to be near a medic.

          This is not a clean hospital setting, with fully qualified doctors examining all your various wounds to determine what the exact consequences would be of dragging you.

          For the vast majority of wounded soldiers, being dragged out is going to be much preferable to the likelihood of being shot. For a very few it wou

    • Hey make lots of cheap fake ones and get the Taliban to waste their ammo... They slow down when they reload.
    • by joe_kull (238178)

      As an American soldier, I'll come out and say that I'd rather the Taliban shot the robot than the real medic. View these like bomb-disposal robots: they're not intended to be better at the actual task (inspecting a bomb or dragging a casualty) than a human, they're intended to do these tasks in situations where you'd hesitate to risk a human. Or, given that most medics I've known will take the risk anyway, at least give the human another option.

    • by nbauman (624611)

      A military doctor told me what the problem was in Iraq. They tended to get injuries two or three at a time. The marines would go across a mine field, hit a mine, and get a leg blown off. They would call "Medic," and the medic would run up to them -- and get a leg blown off. Then another medic would try to rescue them, and also get a leg blown off. It sounded pretty difficult to rescue a soldier from a mine field.

      Maybe that's what they were thinking of with these robots.

      There doesn't seem to be any practical

      • by nospam007 (722110) *

        So the new method would be:

        'The marines would go across a mine field, hit a mine, and get a leg blown off. They would call "Bear" and the bear would roll up to them -- and get a wheel blown off. Then another bear would try to rescue them, and also get a wheel blown off.'

        Much better.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tehcyder (746570)
          At least the bear could carry a few easily replaceable spare wheels, not so easy with human feet.
      • by tehcyder (746570)
        I thought standard operating procedure was to follow directly in someone's path in a minefield if you're going to rescue them? Don't the pathfinders leave a trail or something?
      • by c6gunner (950153)

        Minefields aren't exactly common in Iraq. I'd say your military doctor was either talking out of his ass, or maybe he was talking about a different war and you misunderstood. The scenario you're describing is more common when dealing with sniper fire, or just a regular engagement.

    • would be that this thing might just be another piece of equipment that has to be lugged around the battlefield by foot soldiers, further weighing them down, making them slowoer, easier targets for a light, fast moving enemy. Will we have to put people into harms way just to fly or airdrop one of these things near to where they might be needed.

      Sometimes I get the feeling that we are slowly loosing this war, because of the need to make so many different contractors so much money in the process. I think a re

      • by c6gunner (950153)

        would be that this thing might just be another piece of equipment that has to be lugged around the battlefield by foot soldiers, further weighing them down, making them slowoer, easier targets for a light, fast moving enemy

        The wonderful thing about modern combat is that no matter how fast the other guy might be, it's pretty unlikely that he's faster than a radio signal, an artillery shell, or a hellfire missile.

  • ... just get the BEARs to do the fighting in the first place?

    Then if we ever get into an equal fight, our bears can fight their bears, we'll televise the whole damn thing and make millions in concessions and merch!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      No doubt both sides would outsource BEAR remote control to the same big company on the outskirts of Mumbai...

  • Scary. (Score:5, Funny)

    by goldaryn (834427) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @09:55PM (#34346892) Homepage
    I'm on the battlefield, wounded, afraid and possibly delerious, and up rolls the bastard offspring of Wall-E and pedobear? [gizmag.com]
  • It's so bad....
  • It's Official (Score:2, Insightful)

    by benjamindees (441808)

    The US military is officially just a giant rube goldberg contraption designed to transfer tax monies to defense contractors.

    I think this might even beat out the guys who manage to sell their anti-gravity tesla coils to the pentagon.

    • I am a civilian medic, I am not now, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever likely be, a military medic.

      Perhaps the hardest thing I've ever done in my career, and the hardest thing I was told I might have to do in my training, was stand off at a safe distance while a man screamed for help at the center of a hazmat incident. I didn't go in to help him, because if I did, I would likely become another patient myself. This is, I imagine a roughly analogous situation to a combat casualty.

      I still have the oc
    • I am a civilian medic, I am not now, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever likely be, a military medic.

      Perhaps the hardest thing I've ever done in my career, and the hardest thing I was told I might have to do in my training, was stand off at a safe distance while a man screamed for help at the center of a hazmat incident. I didn't go in to help him, because if I did, I would likely become another patient myself. This is I imagine, a roughly analogous situation to a combat casualty.

      I still have the oc
  • by ZirconCode (1477363) on Thursday November 25, 2010 @11:58PM (#34347338)
    This is the funniest thing I've read today. So you want to send human soldiers into harms way but you then want to develop technology which can do a humans work to retrieve them without causing any further harm to your soldiers? Really?! War....
    • The development of "technology which can do a humans work ... without causing any further harm to your soldiers" has been pretty much the entire point of military technology since we first chipped spearheads out of flint. Most of that technology, of course, has been designed to do the work of causing death rather than preventing it, but the fundamental idea is the same: make it as easy as possible to accomplish the mission and come home alive.

  • Seriously, what the Hell?

  • by newcastlejon (1483695) on Friday November 26, 2010 @04:29AM (#34348272)

    It seems as though one day armies (at least the US') will be composed of robots killing humans. I'm not going to trot out the usual OMG SKYNET!! sentiment, though. What concerns me is that there'll be at least one nation that will be out there making war without suffering much in the way of human loss: where will be the incentive to stop?

    Take a lesson from one of your own:

    It is well that war is so terrible - otherwise we would grow too fond of it. - Lee, December 1862

    When I think that after ten millennia of so-called civilisation we as a species still resort to murder to solve our differences I despair, I truly do.

    • by Combatso (1793216)

      When I think that after ten millennia of so-called civilisation we as a species still resort to murder to solve our differences I despair, I truly do.

      and how do you propose we deal with an enemy, who has a loaded gun pointed at us? Giftbasket? Hug-it-out? Give in to demands?

      I too would like to live in John Lennon's imaginary world, but its not really feasible.

    • Certainly every soldier on the battlefield knows or should know that he's going to get shot at and that he can be shot & killed at any time and, thus, I agree that a robot to carry soldiers out of harm's way is a non-sequitur.

      However, I think there is a good reason to develop the technology... Who says that the BEAR robot can only be used to rescue soldiers? I think we can all imagine some scenarios where using a robot to carry civilians out of harm's way would be very useful.

      Even though I'm puzzled a

  • Anyone else thinks this bears some good resemblance to the Short Circuit robot?
    • by Combatso (1793216)

      Anyone else thinks this bears some good resemblance to the Short Circuit robot?

      Yeah, with pedo-bears head...

  • Why not make the logical step and fit weapons to the BEAR so you don't have to send the soldier into harms way in the first place? This thing has cameras and you could fit a camera to the weapon for sighting purposes... This thing is effectively a wireless waldo and not a real robot, so you still have a human in the loop on the trigger...
  • by heidaro (1392977)
    I for one welcome our BEAR overlords. It should also be noted that worker bears work to produce more bears.
  • How about we just send these robots into battle and let the men remote control them?

    Then we save lives, well, at least, lives of those who have robots to control.

    Then next we can give the robots AI, and maybe a global network or something to control/run them.

    Ya, like call it like horizonnet? hmm, groundnet? naw, spacenet?

    I'm sure we can think of a good name.

  • Did anyone else read BEER Robot when they first seen this headline?

In 1869 the waffle iron was invented for people who had wrinkled waffles.

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