Here's an interesting Tweet that just came in over the metaphorical wire: Wrote @JIEDDO: "Have an idea to defeat IEDs? JIEDDO is soliciting proposals thru 5/23 to prtct dismounted troops. See JIEDDO bids http://tinyurl.com/3m8wm5."
That link takes you here, where, until May 23, vendors can bid using a "vehicle for the competitive selection of basic and applied research, and that part of development not related to the development of a specific system or hardware procurement."
The menace of improvised explosive devices has been a thorn in the side of U.S. commanders for years, and the brass has tried nearly everything it can think of to keep them from exploding, protect troops when they do, or prevent their being set in the first place. Electronic jamming, better surveillance and especially Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicles all have proven critical here. Now, the Joint IED Defeat Organization is focusing specifically on ways to protect troops from IEDs when they're out on foot. It wants a way for dismounted troops to sniff out and avoid IEDs, and it also wants a new robot to accompany soldiers to help. "Therefore, the [Unmanned Ground Vehicle] will need to be able to travel through the same terrain as a dismounted soldier, and have the same endurance."
It's a tough challenge. How do you develop a small, light, sensitive piece of gear that troops must trust with their lives? How do you build a small light robot that can keep pace with an infantry squad over long distances and rough terrain? Can it be done? What would you recommend?