Editorial Feature

Robots Fit for Military Search Missions

Some of the most sophisticated anthropomorphic robots known to man have been introduced by Boston Dynamics, for example with the design and development of Petman – a robot designed for testing chemical protection clothing to help understand how a soldier would stress such uniform under extreme and real life conditions.

A DARPA funded consortium at the University of Pennsylvania is now working on a robotic structure that can jump and climb, making this robot a particularly good fit for military search missions.

The RHex robot, a wheeled robot, has been designed to take on obstacles that are typically challenged by anthropomorphic robots that have been designed with sophisticated limb-like structures to climb walls and walk over harsh terrain.

Typical mechanisms that can be performed with the RHex robot includes jumping over gaps and holes and being able to move around on terrain that present this machine with challenging heights.

The following video demonstrates how the RHex Robot works. The machine has been designed to challenge any terrain:

Video courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania.

The RHex Robot is built with a lightweight carbon fiber, an important design objective for ensuring that the robot doesn’t consume too much power when being used in harsh, extremely challenging environments.

When considering the development of military robotics, the key test for researchers in this field will be to refine these machines so that they can interoperate with humans and are able to operate in unpredictable spaces without military staff sending commands.

The RHex Robot is a fundamental contribution to the application of robots in military-controlled operations and researchers are placing great focus on incorporating sensor technology into this robot for robust state estimation, visual navigation and obstacle avoidance.  

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