US Marines are using Australian Segway robots dressed up as Taliban for target practice.
Marathon Robotics have launched new versions of their armoured ‘Rovers’ which feature mannequins atop self-guided Segway RMP 200 models, and now RMP 400 models too. The ability of these remote control targets to move unpredictably in a way that no other target can offers more realistic training to soldiers. For example, when one is shot, the others are programmed to scatter and head for cover. Some Rovers can be dressed up as insurgents and others as civilians, with them all moving about and amongst each other in a variety of ‘real world’ environments.
The RMP 200 versions glide effortlessly through mock villages and in and out of buildings, while the RMP 400 and the ATV version of the RMP 200 race through fields and dart behind trees and hills.
The Military Times has a story here that features a video of the the robots in action being used as live fire targets.
Marathon Robotics is an excellent example of use of the Segway RMP by an innovative Australian company. The RMP provided an easy-to-program off-the-shelf platform on which to build a new idea. Marathon Robotics was formed by three PhD students from University of Sydney.
While New Zealand doesn’t really ‘do’ military R&D, there are other areas where we have active research projects – some of which will lend themselves to the RMP.