The United States Marines are currently field testing a spherical robot for reconnaissance. Called GuardBot, the robot can swim as well as roll on any terrain while recording with on-board cameras.
Invented by GuardBot Inc., a robotics firm based in Stamford, Connecticut, in the U.S., GuardBot is touted as an all-terrain rugged robot. While the name might suggest attack capabilities, the company maintains that the robot is strictly meant to observe and report from regions that might be too dangerous for U.S. marines to venture initially.
Interestingly, GuardBot was initially conceived as a multi-terrain robot meant to travel to Mars. Under development since 2004, the GuardBot subsequently piqued the interest of the U.S. Navy. The Navy now wants to use GuardBot as a sentry that bravely ventures into unknown and possibly hostile territories in order to collect data and report back during a war.
Though it has taken more than seven years, the GuardBot is a true amphibious robot in all sense, said Peter Muhlrad,
“GuardBot can swim through water at a speed of 4 mph and roll along terrain including sand and snow at 20 mph, even if the ground has a 30-degree incline.”
The components used inside GuardBot surprisingly rely on the ancient technology of pendulums. GuardBot uses a “pendulum motion” propulsion system featuring nine-axis stability. A range of algorithms control the robot’s steering merely by shifting its center of gravity back and forth.
As for the eyes of GuardBot, two transparent half-spheres fitted into the side of the robot ball carry cameras and a multitude of sensors to capture live streaming video footage of opposite directions simultaneously. The technology might remind you of the eyes of chameleons that can look in different directions simultaneously.
Muhlrad assures that the technology that makes GuardBot go is scalable. The company can produce GuardBots as small as 10 centimeters or as large as 9 feet in diameter. A single charge allows GuardBot to go on for eight hours and it can be remotely operated using a standard 2.4 GHz/5 GHz data-link, coupled to a laptop, joystick or integrated display.
In its current iteration, GuardBot can travel at a speed of 6 miles per hour on land and can tread water at 4 miles per hour. The makers assure that, no matter what lies in its path – be it high grass, snow, mud, sand, or water – GuardBot can trudge on. Advanced sensors housed inside the GuardBot allow the robot to “sniff out” chemicals that go into bombs.
It seems while a few robots are lightening the load of soldiers, others are risking themselves to gather data.
[Image Credit | GuardBot Inc]