New Scientist Tech reports that the U.S. Army has contracted Vecna Technologies of College Park, Maryland to develop a robot specifically designed to extract wounded troops.
"The Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (BEAR) will be able to travel over bumpy terrain and squeeze through doorways while carrying an injured soldier in its arms," the article states.
"The robot's hydraulic arms are designed to pick up loads in a single smooth movement, to avoid causing pain to wounded soldiers. While the existing prototype slides its arms under its burden like a forklift, future versions will be fitted with maneuverable hands to gently scoop up casualties.
"The robot's humanoid body and teddy bear-style head give it a friendly appearance. 'A really important thing when you're dealing with casualties is trying to maintain that human touch,' says Gary Gilbert of the U.S. Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center in Frederick, Maryland, which provided the initial funding for BEAR's development. Congress has since added $1.1 million."
BEAR is expected to be ready for field testing in about five years.