5) GhostSwimmer –
Developed by Boston Engineering as part of the US Navy’s Silent NEMO project, the so-named ‘GhostSwimmer‘ is envisioned as a 5-ft long robotic spy fish supported by the advanced tech of bio-mimicry. To that end, the 100-lb weighing military robot supposedly mimics the physical attributes of a bluefin tuna, by exhibiting a rubbery-looking skin and a black dorsal fin that projects above the water level. This is complemented by the subtle rear-tail movement, which allows the fish to make its way silently (yet ‘organically’) across the water.
Now in terms of functionality, the military is banking on this convincing degree of bio-mimicry that might just surprise the enemies – thus allowing the military robot to take part in covert operations that involve real-time data gathering. And the best practical part is, the GhostSwimmer can be controlled by both a joystick or just programmed to function in an autonomous manner. This is what Jerry Lademan, a Marine captain who is leading the project, had to say about the design –
This is an attempt to take thousands of years of evolution – what has been perfected since the dawn of time – and try to incorporate that into a mechanical device. The idea is to essentially reverse-engineer what nature has already done.
6) Hydra –
This is how Popular Science describes the ‘under-wraps’ Hydra robot from Team NEDO-Hydra – “It’s six feet tall, 200 pounds, utterly nightmarish in design, and proof that life is unfair.” Suffice it to say, the Hydra (short for hydraulics) is a hulking specimen that does give us a glimpse into future of military-based robotics. To that end, the imposing contraption is mobilized by Electro-Hydraulic Actuators that were specially developed at the University of Tokyo to complement a force-sensitive robot.
Moreover, the Hydra military robot integrates multiple pumps, as as opposed to most other humanoid robots that only have a single, central pump (connected to a series of valves). This system of distributed hydraulics is expected to make the Hydra a powerhouse, while also exhibiting complaint flexibility in dynamic tasks. Unfortunately, the robot was unable to take part in this year’s DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Finals due to what might be scheduling issues on the part of the team.
7) SAFFiR Autonomous Robot –
The Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (or SAFFiR) is a military robot tailored to put out fires aboard naval marine-crafts. The bipedal, humanoid robot made by the collaborative effort of US Navy and Office of Naval Research (ONR), stands at 178 cm (5 ft 10 inches) tall, and weighs 143 lb (65 kg). And, it is supposedly capable of moving over undulated terrain and operate in tight spaces – all with super-human capacity.
In that regard, the SAFFiR boasts of sensors like infrared stereo-vision and a rotating laser for light detection and ranging (LIDAR) – both of which aids the droid in mapping specific areas and literally see through the smoke. The complementary programming also makes the robot autonomously capable of handling motion (with measured steps) and water hoses. Furthermore, beyond just fighting fires, the SAFFiR military robot can be potentially used for other crucial tasks – like detecting leaks in the dangerous parts of the ship, or taking technical measurements of the affected vessels for safety of future ship-construction projects.
8) XM1216 Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle –
Created as a lightweight, man portable Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (SUGV), the XM1216 military robot can be perceived as the Future Combat Systems’ variant to iRobot’s PackBot. To that end, the contraption boasts a modular design that allows for the incorporation of multiple payloads in its special plug-and-play architecture. As for the other features, the 34.4 lbs (15.6 kg) XM1216 carries thermal cameras (with day-night footage capacity), a laser range finder, an infra-red (IR) illuminator, GPS, two-way speakers and microphone. Interestingly, this SUGV military robot can be remotely maneuvered by a controller which is similar to that of Xbox, thus endowing the advantage of familiarity to the young soldier.
With such inconspicuous aspects, the military robot (with its top speed of 10 km/hr) is primarily designed to assist combatants in urban Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions. Furthermore, given its modular scope and payload capacity of 6.8 kg, the SUGV can also be used to remotely ‘sample’ and survey facilities filled with toxic chemicals or hazardous materials. To that end, the XM1216 can be fitted with additional sensors, a tether/spooler and a tactical engagement simulator.