Guarding military bases can be a lousy job -- long strecthes of mind-numbing boredom, punctuated by flashes of intense danger.A perfect gig for a robot, in other words.So Eglin Air Force Base in Florida is trying out a set of drones to watch its perimeter, the AP notes.One robot being tested is a Jeep-size, four-wheeled vehicle that has been equipped with radar, television cameras and an infrared scan to detect people, vehicles and other objects. It carries a breadbox-sized mini-robot that can be launched to search under vehicles, inside buildings and other small places.Another robot is fashioned from an off-the-shelf, four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle, giving it added versatility because a human also can ride it like a normal ATV. Both vehicles can be remotely operated from laptop computers and can be equipped with remotely fired weapons, like an M-16 rifle or pepper spray....The vehicles can be programmed to patrol specific areas and then alert an operator by radio if they find something suspicious. They have loudspeakers and microphones for questioning intruders and the operator can pick from a variety of languages. (via Gizmodo)THERE'S MORE: Wanna talk about a really dangerous job? That'd the battlefield medic. They're plucked, usually unarmed, into the middle of a warzone's hottest spots. Then they're told to focus on the bleeding G.I. on the ground -- not the guys shooting at him.Over at iRobot -- the company behind the drone vacuum cleaners and the PackBots that soldiers are starting to carry around in their rucksacks -- researchers are working on a robot that could handle some of a medic's duties.
If a soldier is wounded and under heavy fire, a medic may not be able to safely reach that soldier within the "golden hour" immediately following injury. This presents a stark choice between allowing the wounded soldier's condition to worsen or placing the medic in grave danger to reach that casualty -- potentially leading to the death of both soldier and medic.Bloodhound will save warfighters from this lethal dilemma. The Personal Status Monitors and smart uniforms being developed by the Army will detect when a soldier is wounded and alert a medic of the soldier's GPS location. If the soldier is under fire, the medic will deploy a Bloodhound. Bloodhound will use directed frontier-based exploration to navigate autonomously across unknown terrain to the casualty. While the robot navigates to the soldier, the medic will be free to treat other casualties or dispatch robots to other locations.When Bloodhound arrives at the wounded soldier, it will notify the medic, and the medic will examine the casualty using the robot's sensors. Bloodhound's diagnostic sensors include video cameras, an electronic stethoscope, and two-way audio to communicate with a conscious casualty.After determining the extent of the casualty's injuries, the medic will be able to treat those injuries using Bloodhound's medical payloads. Potential payloads include devices to stop bleeding (inflatable bandages, fibrin bandages, liquid fibrin sealants, Factor VII), intramuscular auto-injectors (which can deliver morphine, adrenaline, and nerve agent antidotes), and advanced diagnostic devices. Using these payloads, the medic will be able to stabilize the casualty's condition until a medic can arrive or the casualty can be evacuated. (via Engadget)