New battlefield robot features “transformer” design
October 17, 2007 The manufacturer of the TALON® and SWORDS robot units for military and first response scenarios has introduced a new Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System. Known as MAARS™, the robot trumps its predecessors with a 50%, or 2.5mph, increase in speed, a more powerful M240B Medium Machine Gun, a bigger payload bay, higher torque, enhanced safety features and a modular design that enables the gun turret to be switched with a manipulator arm used in the neutralization of roadside bombs.
The modular design robot produced by QinetiQ North America’s Foster-Miller Inc is in effect a combination of the TALON® and SWORDS platform with the ability to transform its weapon into a manipulator arm capable of hoisting up to 45 kilograms providing greater versatility.
Since it was adopted by the US government in 2000, the TALON’s quick pace and relative hardiness have made it useful for a variety of roles – surveillance and reconnaissance in Bosnia, explosive ordnance disposal, and rescue operations at Ground Zero after the September 11 terrorist attack. In 2003, the armed SWORDS model was tested in Kuwait before being deployed in Iraq in 2007, the first armed robot to be sent into a combat zone. However, despite their service record, SWORDS units in Iraq have yet to fire a shot.
With the 350 pound (160kg) MAARS™ platform, Foster-Miller has aimed to allay any potential safety concerns by emphasizing situational awareness and command and control. The unit incorporates “fire” and “no fire” zones into its battlefield map, and is unable to target allied military posts or its own control unit. It also features significant improvements in manoeuvrability, mobility, lethality and safety, compared to its SWORDS predecessor, and its uni-body frame facilitates easier battery and electronics accessibility.