[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                  February 22, 2008
Armywide News

Future robotics technology 
previewed at War College

By Shelaine Tuytschaevers, Army News Service

      CARLISLE BARRACKS, Pa.  -- "I'm almost glad when I see a robot with his arm blown off, because I know that a $500 part is a lot easier to repair than the arm of a Soldier," said Dave Kowachek, a mechanical engineer at Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC).

Photo: Maj. Michael Pottratz explains some of the unique features of the Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS) to a U.S. Army War College student. The MAARS is an updated version of the TALON SWORDS and is being sent to Iraq. (Photo by Shelaine Tuytschaevers)
Maj. Michael Pottratz explains some of the unique features of the Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS) to a U.S. Army War College student. The MAARS is an updated version of the TALON SWORDS and is being sent to Iraq. 
(Photo by Shelaine Tuytschaevers)

      TARDEC was one of the companies at the U.S. Army War College Robotics Day Feb. 12. The event was an opportunity for future leaders to see emerging technology.

      Looking into the future of transformational technology means moving away from human capabilities and letting the robots do the dirty work.

      "Robotics like this will help give EOD Soldiers a safe standing distance. We want to take the man out of any mission that's dull, dirty or dangerous," said Kowachek.

      Robotics Day plays an important role in educating effective commanders, said Bill Waddell, director of the Command and Control Group at the Center for Strategic Leadership. "This event has a valuable strategic impact for War College students to see newly developing robotic capabilities, and this is critical in helping these leaders understand how this emerging technology will influence the future."

      By inviting the robotic companies to the U.S. Army War College, the up-and-coming inventions have a stage to showcase their state-of-the art capabilities.

      The TALON SWORDS is one of the robots most recently fielded in Iraq. With about 1,500 deployed in-theater now, it is an unmanned ground vehicle, receiving good reviews from Soldiers using it for explosive ordnance disposal.

      Adam Keninston, a field service engineer for Foster-Miller Inc., travels around the country every week demonstrating the TALON SWORDS. He also encourages the TALON SWORDS for use in the civilian market for assistance to bomb squads and hazmat teams.


"Robotics like this will help give EOD Soldiers a safe standing distance. We want to take the man out of any mission that's dull, dirty or dangerous."

Dave Kowachek,
Mechanical Engineer,
Tank Automotive Research
Development and Engineering Center

      "The question I get asked the most is, 'How far can they go?'" said Keninston. "And the answer to that is about one thousand meters line-of-sight."

      Other up and coming robots like the Battlefield Extraction Assist Robot (BEAR), can do many jobs, even retrieving casualties. Much like the familiar Segway, this creation can travel over rugged terrain and lift up to 500 pounds. With the ability to extract a casualty from a battlefield or help someone trapped beneath debris, the BEAR can take the place of a Soldier put at risk during a rescue situation. The BEAR also  can detect bio-chemical hazards and has interchangeable hands for performing specific duties.

      Andrew Allen, a robotics engineer for Vecna Technologies, Inc., is excited about the BEAR and points out its many possibilities: "I enjoy the opportunity to introduce this robot around the community and I am hoping to introduce it into fire-fighting and search-and-rescue teams."

      Students at the War College not only learn about the robots, but they learn the many issues involved in selection, funding, trialing and training.                 

      George Mouser, a retired colonel and former War College graduate, works with General Dynamics Robotic Systems. He sees Robotics Day as a chance to encourage future leaders to consider the integration of robotics into advanced war-fighter systems.

      Robotics Day is part of the core curriculum of the War College integrated with the Department of  Command Leadership and Management. This year, 24 guest instructors participated in the student seminars to discuss with future leaders how to help science and technology work together with acquisitions.

(Tuytschaevers serves with the U.S. Army War College Public Affairs Office.)

 

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