“Army looks for a few good robots, sparks industry battle”

Associated Press |  December 28, 2018 | By MATT O’BRIEN   


CHELMSFORD, Mass. (AP) — The Army is looking for a few good robots. Not to fight — not yet, at least — but to help the men and women who do.

These robots aren’t taking up arms, but the companies making them have waged a different kind of battle. At stake is a contract worth almost half a billion dollars for 3,000 backpack-sized robots that can defuse bombs and scout enemy positions. Competition for the work has spilled over into Congress and federal court.

… Engineers at Endeavor showed [the Scorpion robot] for the first time publicly to The Associated Press in November. Using a touchscreen controller that taps into the machine’s multiple cameras, an engineer navigated it through tunnels, over a playground-like structure and through an icy pool of water, and used its grabber to pick up objects. [CEO Sean] Bielat said the newer Scorpion and Centaur robots are designed to be easier for the average soldier to use quickly without advanced technical training.

‘‘Their primary job is to be a rifle squad member,’’ Bielat said. ‘‘They don’t have time to mess with the robot. They’re going to demand greater levels of autonomy.’’

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