Sunday, 4 May 2008

Robobugs: these crawlies are really creepie

British defence manufacturer BAE Systems has begun a research programme which could eventually lead to swarms of robobugs buzzing over the battlefield. The five year progamme, funded to the tune of $38million by the US Army, will bring together academics from nine US universities and BAE's own engineers at their New Hampshire research centre.
The Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST) programme aims at developing an "autonomous, multifunctional collection of miniature intelligence-gathering robots" which will operate in places too inaccessible or dangerous for humans. Soldiers in the field will be able to deploy the mini-droids and gain a tactical advantage in dangerous situations, identify potential threats and gather intelligence they wouldn't have been able to previously. The roboflies and robospiders will carry sensors, cameras, chemical sniffers and even mini-bombs.
Steve Scalera, project manager, said: "We don't want to overburden soldiers on the battlefield. These devices can find their own way and work together in teams, much like groups of ants or bees do. But they work for the soldiers, feeding them information. At the soldier level, on the battlefield, we envisage these pieces of equipment to be ubiquitous. We want to actually put them in the hands of soldiers, who may have a pocketful of them." Robolice: the soldier's friend.

Link> The Mail: Robobug goes to war
Link> The Telegraph: Robotic bugs set to invade the battlefield
Link> The Sun: Army to get ‘Spy-der’ robots