Tactical Robotics for 2014
Applied Research Associates
Research Associates (ARA) offers a small, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)
especially suited for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and search and
rescue. The Nighthawk/Micro UAV is a
hand- or tube-launched aerial vehicle using GPS and an autopilot to assist in
situational awareness and/or search and rescue. The Federal Aviation
Administration now deems the unit “airworthy.”
has a range of about 6 miles (maximum 11,000-foot operating ceiling) and
cruises at 25-40 mph, with a flight time of about 60 minutes. Weighing 1.9
pounds and having a 26-inch wingspan, it is useful for situations of search and
rescue, disaster response, detention centers, terrain where roads are
unreliable or non-existent, or fixed site security. It carries forward- and
side-looking cameras and can also carry a side-looking thermal imager or other
sensors. The craft rolls into a 6-inch tube for storage. No assembly is
required prior to use.
station uses PC-based technology for real-time visual feedback and
control. Point and click waypoint navigation
keeps operation easy. The preferred launch method in a fixed site is a tube
launch and ARA’s TOWlaunch system can be mounted on a building so that
personnel are not exposed to view by others. The Nighthawk can also be launched
from a vehicle. When combined with ARA’s E-UGS, the Nighthawk can be automatically
fed a grid coordinate and will launch to that location.
company’s 110 FirstLook ®, 310 SUGV, 510 PackBot® and 710 Warrior ® are its
headliners for first responders. The iRobot 110 FirstLook is small, lightweight
and throwable to provide easy situational awareness, investigate confined
spaces, and give persistent observation. Four built-in cameras observe from all
has two-way audio communication, weighs 5 pounds, and is 10 inches long. It can
survive 16-foot drops onto concrete and is waterproof to 3 feet. Designed to
explore tight places, it can climb steps up to 7 inches tread height, overcome
curbs and obstacles, turn in place, self-right if flipped over, and run about
six hours and up to 3.4 mph.
iRobot 310 SUGV features a dexterous manipulator and wearable controller for
dismounted mobile operations. It can enter areas too inaccessible or dangerous
for people, and can climb stairs and overcome obstacles, all while
accommodating a range of payloads and sensors. It weighs 29 pounds without
payloads and can run up to 6.2 mph. The
wearable controller weighs 6 pounds. Batteries can run more than six hours (two
batteries in the unit).
iRobot 510 PackBot neutralizes car bombs and other IEDs, screens vehicles-cargo-buildings-people
for traces of explosives, and can search buildings, tunnels, sewers, or other
routes/areas. It is useful for HazMat detection or checkpoint, vehicle or
personnel inspections. The unit’s 4.9GHz mesh radio kit and multiple nodes can
establish and relay communications even in radio-challenged environments. Its
retro-traverse capabilities allow it to automatically retrace its approach path
if communications are disrupted.
can automatically right if flipped over. It is modular, adaptable and
expandable to traverse stairs, rubble and narrow passageways, runs up to 5.8
mph, and can be deployed by one person in a couple minutes. It relays real-time
video, audio and sensors data. The unit
weighs about 24 pounds without batteries, and is 7 inches high by 16 inches
large or heavy payloads, the company offers the configurable 710 Warrior, a
unit suitable for indoor or outdoor use. Its strength and mobility allow it to
carry payloads in excess of 150 pounds for such tasks as explosive ordnance
disposal, remote detection, route clearance, reconnaissance, building
clearance, breaching missions, and heavy lifting. It can be deployed in about
one minute and has a runtime of 4– 10 hours, at a maximum speed of 8 mph. Battery
installation and removal takes about one minute. The unit weighs about 365
pounds, or 500 pounds with the arm installed.
TacBot is an all-weather robot that can be delivered, deployed and controlled
by one person from a position of cover. It carries out reconnaissance using a
boom-mounted 32X camera to stream to the command center from up to a mile
line-of-sight (or farther with a Sentinel RSD acting as a digital repeater). It
sends still photos and video playback and is a WiFi hotspot/digital radio
repeater. An LED illuminator is built in and the unit works with other
Sentinels or TacBot Remote Infiltrator units deployed by a robot or
robots are fully integrated with the company’s “CommandLink” series to share
video and information among incident commanders, entry teams and scouts. The
robot can be operated using a standard Windows-based laptop or Apple iPhone or iPad,
using the free software. So, an operator in a tactical truck can control the
robot just as easily as a SWAT team member in the stack. Multiple robots can
interoperate on the same callout.
Operating range is up to 1 mile line-of-sight from a Windows computer,
or 1,000 feet line-of-sight from an iPhone or iPad.
Throwbot® XT with audio capabilities is a versatile and robust robot that is
easily deployed by tactical operators. It weights 1.2 pounds and can be thrown
up to 120 feet. This personal sensor
system is water and dust resistant and operates quietly at 22 decibels. An infrared
optical system activates automatically in low light.
can be directed to move through a structure and transmit video and audio to the
control unit for such work as locating suspects, confirming the presence of
hostages, listening to conversations, or revealing the layout of rooms. The
unit can be purchased without audio capability, but can later be enabled for
listening. Up to three robots can be used in the environment at the same time
when different transmitting frequencies are used. The unit can run on flat
terrain up to 60 minutes.
Recon Scout® IR can “see” in complete darkness. Lightweight and affordable, it
can be thrown through a window or doorway to move through an environment and
transmit real-time video to a video screen or command post.
Recon Scout ® Throwbot® LE is an affordable police robot that weighs 1.1
pounds. It can survive horizontal throws of 50 feet and drops of 15 feet. Operating
at 20 decibels, it can transmit video up to 100 feet indoors and up to 300 feet
outdoors, providing clear video even in low-light environments. The unit can be
converted into a versatile pole camera.
Recon Scout® XL is a micro-robot for varied terrain, providing both video and
audio reconnaissance. It can climb over 4-inch obstacles, but weighs only 1.4
pounds. The unit can be thrown 30 feet and dropped 15 feet. It features
infrared optics and water resistance.
Recon Scout® UVI robot visually inspects undercarriages of vehicles and can
operate in low light. Clear video is transmitted up to 1,000 feet to a command
station, or 300 feet to a handheld control unit. It has auto-focus optics and a
60-degree field of view, and provides a direct, not reflected, view of the
III Security Robot can be used for long-range surveillance, even hundreds of
miles away from a central operations center. The robot’s capabilities use
existing WiFi networks, and can recharge at remote docking stations, using
existing power outlets. Control software
installs on a PC or Mac and uses a handheld controller for patrol and
reconnaissance. Multiple incidents, simultaneous patrols, and remote
communications can all be facilitated.
ability, built-in IR night vision, 360-degree pan-tilt-zoom cameras, and a
lightweight (25 pounds) and portable size (24.41 inches by 15.35, by 6.14
height) provide an efficient way to patrol routes, respond to alarms or inspect
incidents through manual control from a central location.
Avatar II Tactical Robot is a rugged, but easy-to-use unit with an up to five-hour
battery life and 300-meter operating range. It weighs 25 pounds and is 24 x 15
x 6 inches. Using wireless video and audio transmission, the unit has two-way
audio functionality, video and audio recording capability, and live video and
audio with automatic IR.
can self-right itself if flipped over, climb stairs, and can maneuver easily
with its slightly off-parallel tracking. It is especially suited for tactical
callouts, high-risk warrants or domestic disturbance response, remote
communication with hostile subjects, searching for missing persons,
investigating suspicious packages or vehicles, and monitoring a large perimeter
for hazards or hazardous fume/materials detection.
company manufactures a wide range of tactical and surveillance robots. The
units can be customizable, and the company can also build from scratch because
it designs, builds, tests and supports its products under “one roof” at its North Carolina facility.
Its compact surveillance robots include the MLT Complete Surveillance Robot
that weighs less than 8 pounds and is drop resistant up to 10 feet. A throwable
robot, it has a flipper arm stabilizer to climb over objects up to 10 inches
high. The unit comes with a matching remote and is weather resistant. An IR
camera in the nose of the robot displays a color image with ambient light.
Surveillance Robot weighs 14 pounds and features four wheels that are driven by
independent gear motors. It is a completely enclosed chassis integrated with a
pan and tilt camera system. Video is displayed real time on an included,
7-inch-wide color LCD screen.
mid-sized robots include the LT2 and LT2-F robots for surveillance. They
include a custom remote, a front-tilt camera, and a battery charging station. The
LT2 is capable of climbing “normal” stairs and obstacles, while the LT2-F can
tackle more unconventional stairs or obstacles. The LT2 can be upgraded with an
arm. Both units are weather resistant.
company’s heavy-duty/large robots include the HD2-S treaded robot, and the
HD2-S with a multi-axis arm. The units feature aircraft-grade aluminum and
custom treads with aggressive, all-terrain patterning. A heavy-duty frame
serves as a roll cage. Included with these robots is a choice of controller,
battery charger and complete assembly and testing.
drone is unlike other drones, in being capable of working 24 hours a day and
operating at speeds over 45 mph even in all but the most extreme weather
conditions. No piloting is needed because the drone requires no operator to
manage it. The drone can recognize objects and work with visual data received
during a mission. Lightweight and aerodynamic, the Q-4 has a simple design so
that most repairs can be done without the need for complicated work or high
is protected from radio interference and operates at low noise levels. In most
cases of collision, the robot is not affected because of its innovative
protective shell housing. The Q-4 is capable of incorporating Artificial
Intelligence to enhance its efficiency in detecting a threat or investigating
an alarm. The drone can fly missions in difficult-to-reach locations such as
rooftops, pipelines, electrical networks, livestock, borders, recreation areas,
ground station can be used for recharging and downloading. User interface is
simplified. The Q-4 can automatically take off and begin flying using
pre-determined points. It can be configured with a camera system for panoramic
video, or can find specific objects on which to focus, using a second
high-definition camera with zoom capability. It analyzes video and locates
motions, sends video to the control center, measures distance to objects and
their speed, and can even signal an alarm or make an audio announcement.
Stephenie Slahor, Ph.D., J.D.,
writes in the fields of law enforcement and security. She can be reached at
Published in Tactical Response, Jan/Feb 2014
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