Maybe there's been a less intimidating guard drone developed by the U.S. military. But I haven't seen it, yet.robart3e.jpgThe ROBART III is the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center's prototype for a mechanical rent-a-cop replacement -- designed to detect intruders, and pop 'em with a "pneumatically powered six-barrel Gatling-style weapon that fires simulated tranquilizer darts or rubber bullets."In development since 1992, ROBART III uses "head-mounted sensors, includ[ing] two Polaroid sonar transducers, a Banner near-infrared proximity sensor, an AM Sensors microwave motion detector, and a video surveillance camera" to spot infiltrators. But what happens when the bot finds its foes -- well, I'm guessing ROBART's creators haven't thought that far ahead. Faced with a contraption that looks like a cross between Johnny Five, 2XL, and ROM Spaceknight, only the most timid of trespassers would be scared off by the machine, you'd figure.Maybe that'll change, when ROBART's new helpers come on line. In a new research thrust, drone-builders at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center are looking to put together "a group of slave robots [that] would follow ROBART III into a building and be deployed at strategic locations to serve as communication relays, rearguard lookouts, expendable point men... preventing an intruder from playing 'hide-and-seek' with ROBART III."I feel safer already.

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