31 Dec 2011

Presenting SWORDS - The World's First Weaponized Robot

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By Andrew Newell

Try to imagine a soldier that doesn't sleep, doesn't eat, doesn't feel pain, and doesn't waste time on doing exactly what it was made to do; eliminate the enemy. This is SWORDS; the first-ever weaponized robot the world has seen. Time magazine even referred to it as, "One of the greatest inventions of the 21st century. ... It can be outfitted with everything from a machine gun to a rocket or grenade launcher, seriously violating Asimov's three laws of robotics."

What does it do?

Short for Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection Systems, SWORDS is developed by TALON Robotics at Foster-Miller, a company based in Massachusetts. This $200,000, three-foot 100-pound armed robot can go underwater, climb stairs, and navigate through sand, snow, rock and fire at an even faster pace than a typical running soldier. It has both night and infrared vision, and has four cameras strategically located at the front, back and both sides with extremely detailed zooming capabilities.

It will also carry multiple standard Squad Automatic Weapons, including the M249, which fires 5.56-millimeter rounds at 750 per minute and M240, which can fire 1,000 7.62-millimeter rounds per minute. Apart from the amazing ability of packing so much weapons and ammo, this robot is also extremely accurate when firing at enemies. It is said that while a typical soldier can hit a target the size of basketball from 300 meters away, SWORDS can hit a target the size of nickel from 500 meters away. This far better level of accuracy is due to the fact that its gun is mounted on a stable platform and fired electronically using cameras with multiple zoom, rather than by a soldier's hands and limited vision.

Running on lithium ion batteries, SWORDS can be operated using a 30-pound control unit from a distance of approximately 20 football fields.

Why do we need it?

Though the robot is roughly only three-feet high, it possesses all the necessary skills and traits of a great soldier, and completely lacks the insignificant details of a terrible one. It can execute missions that are too dangerous for regular soldiers, as it can withstand both extremely cold and hot temperatures. Further, it doesn't need to be trained, clothed or fed. It doesn't get injured easily but if it does, it never complains. Most importantly, there wouldn't be families and relatives left in total grief in the event it meets its demise in battle.

When will it be on active duty?

Three SWORDS were sent during the Iraq war mostly for experimentation purposes only. The results turned out greater than expected, but its creators believe there is so much room for improvement in the weapons and protection areas. Currently, the Army has been testing new models over the past year at Picatinny and the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. It is predicted that in 2010, the SWORDS will get even more deadly, as there are plans of equipping the machine with the larger .50 caliber machine guns. Further, it will also pack grenade and rocket launchers with multiple rocket rounds into a single barrel, allowing much more rapid firing. GP

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Article Source:  Presenting SWORDS - The World's First Weaponized Robot