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Robotics The Military Hardware Technology

US Military To Field Test "Throwable" Robots 91

cylonlover writes "Robots are a perfect tool to give soldiers in the field 'eyes' on a potentially hazardous situation without placing themselves in harm's way. With soldiers often operating in difficult terrain or entering buildings, the easiest way to get such robots into place is usually to throw them. Currently, many units use a small tactical robot called the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle 320 which is equipped with video reconnaissance technology. However, this robot weighs a not very pack-friendly 32 pounds (14.5 kg), so the call has been put out for a lighter robot that is more easily transportable by dismounted units on the move and is able to be thrown into forward locations such as buildings and caves. To this end, the U.S. military is set to put three different types of lightweight, 'throwable' robots through a series of combat assessments in Afghanistan."
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US Military To Field Test "Throwable" Robots

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  • Of course.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheCarp ( 96830 )

    Its hard to see why they need this since they haven't actually needed to DEFEND this country since um.... they were fighting with muskets.

    Seems they would get a lot more bang for their buck by not fighting wars than coming up with all these better ways to do it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by swanzilla ( 1458281 )
      Hawaii begs to differ.
    • Well, we're there and we're doing it. Since we are comitted, maybe the best thing to do now is not get our boys killed running blind into buildings and caves full of people who want to kill them.

      Also I can see DEA and SWAT teams using these in a manner where they typically use fiber optic cameras now.

      • by vlm ( 69642 )

        Also I can see ... SWAT teams using these in a manner where they typically use fiber optic cameras now.

        They already do. Get your police scanner and listen for awhile. I listened to this most recently last week, tossing these things into an "intoxicated man with warrant barricades himself in house" situation. Locally, they call them "camera balls"

        High comedy at the end of every incident they ALWAYS end up unable to find at least one, and have to detail one guy to watch the monitor while the other guy walks around with a flashlight kicking stuff over and opening all the doors. Worse is when it gets broken

      • Re:Of course.... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <[ten.tenaprac] [ta] [cjs]> on Wednesday October 05, 2011 @04:03PM (#37616780) Homepage

        Hopefully we can send all the DEA to the fucking unemployment line within the next few years since, once they legalize pot (which is the vast majority of illegal drug users... more than the next big 3 combined).

        Aside from that... just don't include me in your "We". I am disgusted that I even have to pay for a dime of any of this warmongering BS. I am not commited at all, if it were up to me the operative words on ending the wars would be "immediate, and complete". Out of afghanistan, out of Iraq. Hell....out of Korea. Been an utter waste of our money for generations.

        No commitment here. And nobody willing to die for this government is "my boy".


        • No commitment is right. When the terrorists, who've had years to plan, train & equip in complete safety because we weren't there to stop them, launch a coordinated attack on U.S. infrastructure that takes out bridges, power, oil, gas, and medical services, you can sit there and smoke your pot, in the dark, with no XBox, no cell phone, no food arriving at your grocery store, and no more pot because it can't be delivered to you anymore! You'll be happy, though: The DEA will have other things to worry a
          • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

            ROTFL you think they can be stopped? ROTFL.

            They will have years to plan, train, and equip, no matter what you do. Because "they" are not real. "They" are not the cohesive group, and no pronoun is going to make "them" into one. A terrorist attack could happen today, tomorow, next week. Nothing anybody does is every going to change that fact. Period. 100% waste of time and money.

            The main reason another one hasn't happened? Simple.... there just are not that many people trying, and those few that are, are not

    • Well you know what they say, a good offense is the best defense...
      • Or what Dan Quayle once said: "Bobby Knight told me this: 'There is nothing that a good defense cannot beat a better offense.' In other words a good offense wins."

    • The problem with isolationism is this. If the rest of the world is controlled by one country (USSR) or a coalition of countries (Axis Powers) then they can easily blockade the US. They just don't buy or sell from the US. The US will collapse from lack or resources (especially oil) and the dominant powers just come in and mop up.

      Japan screwed up in WW2. As Admiral Yamamoto said after the attack on Pearl Harbour; "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

      • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

        Who said anything about isolationism? Since when is not murdering people for political reasons "isolationism"?

        Also, why would we just assume that such a scenario, which has never really been the case in the world, is likely or plausible? It seems to me that the entire argument rests on the paranoid notion that the entire rest of the world can be convinced to act together on anything, much less turning down large swaths of business.

        Just not going to happen, this is the sort of thinking that made sense back w

        • Isolationism is ignoring world events up until the point that US territory is invaded. They tried that before WW2 and all it got them was a Europe taken over by Germany and most of China taken over by the Japanese.

          The basis of my post was your assertion that "they haven't actually needed to DEFEND this country since um.... they were fighting with muskets." Most wars after that have been fought on foreign soil. It seems that for the military to be defending the US you think they must be fighting on American

          • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

            Ignoring? Who said ignore? I just said that is where the bright line for the use of ANY military force should be, and should set the goal of that force.

            If they can't survive as an institution without war, then they shouldn't survive as an institution.

            "If the Axis plans had succeed the world, other that the US and maybe Canada (much of South America was already sympathetic to Germany), would have been controlled by three countries who worked together."

            Right right...if it had worked, if they could have held i

        • by osu-neko ( 2604 )

          Who said anything about isolationism?

          To an extremist, any statement of disagreement is taken as advocacy for their opposite extreme. The idea of a moderated position is incomprehensible -- the dial only had two settings: zero and eleven. Five is right out...

      • As far as can be determined only his character in the movie "Tora! Tora! Tora!" said that:'s_sleeping_giant_quote []

    • Maybe all of us soldiers should just go home so you can see how friendly our neighbors really are.
    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )
      Yeah, except for when US soil was invaded by Pancho Villa before WWI, and Japanese troops actually landed on US soil(well, technically at that time territorial Alaska, look up the invasion of the Aleutians) back in WW2.
    • by AP31R0N ( 723649 )

      You should attend a high school or college US History class, or a world history class. It's full of why you are wrong.

    • You only say that because you're not a defense contractor.
    • to protect you from yourself ofcourse? after all if free speech is to be a privilege according to some old-worlders you will need to be protected and checked on your proper use of goodspeak
  • by Anonymous Coward

    why not just drop bundles of cash on the battlefield?, i'm sure that Pashtun famer has a much better use for cash than a big bang
    just skip the middlemen and drop raw cash

  • Why is this something that has not been made yet?

    Get a small wireless surveillance camera, attach a battery, and put it in a container that is throw able and will always land upright.

    Toss though the window, and have it try to scan the room as quickly as possible.

    This should cost less than $300 per.

    Something like this could be used as the base camera. []

    • Already being done []. These devices have been used quite often on the TV show Flashpoint which follows a fictional Canadian SRU.

    • a container that is throw able and will always land upright.

      I remember seeing a commercial for a radio controlled monster truck toy that could do this.

    • We could just attach them to kittens!
  • "Robots are a perfect tool to give leaders 'eyes' on a potentially hazardous situation without placing themselves in harm's way."

    Won't be long now before grunts are no longer out there.
    • Won't be long now before grunts are no longer out there.

      Think of how much federal budget we'll save by eliminating those wages, and how much revenue it will generate at the state penal institutions where those ain't-no-fortunate-sons(-or-daughters) end up.

    • Not there yet. Actually new technology increases the need for grunts. Who do you think carries it? If we go on a mission with a dozen high tech tools, do you think there is any one person who is an expert in all of them? Not a chance. Plus, anything with a screen is a distraction. You can't look at a screen and pull security at the same time. Whoever uses this needs a few more guys to make sure nobody is sneaking up on him. Not to mention firepower will never be obsolete. One guy with all the tech
      • Who do you think carries it?

        DARPA's MULE []?

        If we go on a mission with a dozen high tech tools, do you think there is any one person who is an expert in all of them? Not a chance. Plus, anything with a screen is a distraction. You can't look at a screen and pull security at the same time. Whoever uses this needs a few more guys to make sure nobody is sneaking up on him.

        Transmit it to some base where a guy in a room with AC will analyse the data and video?

        Maybe not for now, but it'll happen.

  • As the article notes, they already use "throwable" robots, and have for a while. This is just an R&D effort to come up with a lighter-weight one.

    They've been around at least a decade I'd guess. When I read the "Absolute Beginner's Guide to Building Robots" [] in 2003 (alas, I didn't build any robots, guide or not), it already included a section where it mentioned in passing that the military had something called a "throwbot" that soldiers could throw into confined areas for reconnaissance, so it must've be

  • Looks like Lego has a trademark on the Throwbots brand. Good luck with that, those Dutch aren't going to let you get your warmongering hands on it.
    • Lego is Danish, not Dutch []. That said, both are inaugural members of NATO []. They'll monger war right along with the rest of us, and I'm sure if necessary the trademark can be licensed.

      If all else fails, consider that trademarks don't have to be universally distinctive, just distinctive within a particular commercial endeavor, and no one can sanely claim that naming military reconnaissance robots the same as the North American branding of a Lego throwing toy is "passing off".

  • Sounds like they want some of the little spider robots from Minority Report. I see the immediate benefit to our troops in combat, but Minority Report also clearly shows the disadvantages.
    • Actually, you could create spider mines. Or worse, jumping spider mines that attach themselves to the poor SOB prior to detonation. Maybe have them communicate in a hive-mind so they surround a platoon agree on picking targets just prior to rushing in for the kill. Now that's nasty.

  • The concept reminds me of the Noah Unit Canon in Supreme Commander 2
  • I see nothing in article mentioning how they control or view what the robot is seeing. Seems a very important part of the equation. 5lb robot 20lb controller? American grenades shaped like baseballs is not without reason. I don't see tossing any of these robots through a second story window, or even a ground level window given a safe distance. These all look like scouting type robots. Need a more K.I.S.S. type deal of just a P&T camera w/IR that you huck into an area. If it lands in a bad spot, huck a
  • by dark_requiem ( 806308 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2011 @03:58PM (#37616702)
    First mobster: Hey, they's throwin' robots!
    Linguo: They are throwing robots.
    Second mobster: It's disrespecting us. Shut up a'you face.
    Linguo: Shut up your face.
    Second mobster: Whatsa' matta you?
    First mobster: You ain't so big.
    Second mobster: Me an' him are gonna' whack you in the labonza.
    Linguo: Mmmm... AAH!... bad grammar overload. Error. Error.
  • But it would mean other stuff is usually sacrificed (Either Money or Durability probably). Why not just make a mini mortar for them or a slingshot?
  • This could done for less than a hundred bucks and in a couple of hours.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hampster ball style poly-carbonate globe with traction texture.

    Electronics at the bottom for weight, slowly adjustable camera. Multi-directional floating stepper motor wheels, have college kids build this as their final project under GPL terms and use the final design.

    Replaceable/swappable parts:
    Poly-Carbonate globe
    Stepper motor sub-assembly (should have a standard interface and wire up to the main board)
    Camera assembly
    main board

    Bonus points if you can control it using an off the shelf kid's t

  • I can't allow you to throw me.
  • How do the Afghan people feel about their country being used as a field experiment by the US military industrial complex?
  • Does Microsoft have a grant to develop software for this? Their CEO has some experience with throwing things,. . .
  • How long before some know-it-all slashdotter posts some ridiculous idea on how this might be subverted to allow the enemy to gain the upper hand?
  • Also, check out Smile For The Grenade! "Camera Go Bang!" [] Vlad Gostom and Joshua Marpet have been at Derbycon, Defcon, etc their work toward a flare-gun-launched camera. When they presented their 'Firefly' at BSides LV this year, they acknowledged they're still struggling against acceleration-related problems, and consider their work at version 0.1 level.

    But the ideas have promise, and a flaregun launcher design offers greater range than throwing, uses tech already in nonmilitary use, has search-and-rescue

  • by tmosley ( 996283 ) on Wednesday October 05, 2011 @04:51PM (#37617400)
    I'm all for this, after all, you should never trust a robot you can't throw out the window.
  • When I first read the headline I thought it was about dwarf tossing.......... []

  • Surely these are Pokemon.

    I hurd you liek mudskips :P

  • Seeing as medical science can get 360 degree views of a person's guts by virtue of a pill with an array of cameras and a short range antenna, I'm certain you could make the thing grenade-size and have some hardy optics, and transmit the 30m or so you can actually chuck a grenade.
  • Motherfucking Sentry gun launcher! Fuck yeah! Would give all my scrap metal for it.

  • What could possibly go wrong?

"For a male and female to live continuously together is... biologically speaking, an extremely unnatural condition." -- Robert Briffault