The remotely controlled MAARS is based on a modular framework that facilitates the addition of new accessories and attachments as they become available. The key to this system is a turret system supporting a drop-in manipulator arm, multiple types of weapons and a wide range of sensor packages plus up to seven cameras with multi-modal capabilities.
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The response options offered by MAARS range from non-lethal force such as a dazzling eye-safe laser or voice projection through loudspeakers that form part of a two-way communications system, through to lethal weapons 40mm high-explosive grenades or M240B medium machine gun firing 7.62mm ammunition. There are also several "less-lethal" ammunition options such bean bags, smoke, star clusters and pepper spray.
The robot can be controlled over a distance of one kilometre from the operator and is designed to tackle all terrains - including stairs - and it can use wheels rather than tracks to increase speed and reduce noise.
“The US government has been working with us over the last 18 months to develop and provide an innovative and evolutionary approach to combat situations that address the battlefield of the future,” said Dr William Ribich, President of the Technology Solutions Group, QinetiQ North America. “The MAARS robot, building on valuable experience gained with our SWORDS robot system in Iraq, is now ready to provide the needed core platform to develop tactics, techniques and procedures for using armed, yet human-controlled, robotic ground systems.”
MAARS will continue to be tested in the coming months to ensure full compliance with standards and a safety release for fielding.