Robots to sense environment: A new edge to next Gen surveillance



Scientists at Lockheed Martin have been developing prototypes at the Advanced Technologies Laboratory, which are expected to obtain useful intelligence in sensitive areas. This prototype was unveiled last month and can survey its environment, calculate lines of sight, locate good hiding places and detect potential threats. These prototype robots have been created with stealthy bodies and powerful intelligence. One of such devices is the snakebot, which has been developed by the Biorobotics and Biomechanics Lab team in the Israel based Technion Institute of technology.

The next gen surveillance robots

Understanding the difficulty of manned personnel to get into troubled areas, scientists have created the snakebot for such operations. The snakebot can do the job of unmanned surveillance mission in war torn areas, by procuring intelligence report which is more accurate. While it may be very dangerous for manned missions and soldiers to operate in sensitive areas, it is not so in the case of the robots. The snakebot has been created keeping the logistics and terrain where it is required to operate.

The snakebot’s movements

The snakebot is modeled and crafted in such a way that its presence is not easily detected. Made of polymer segments and powered by an electric motor, the snakebot is six foot long with flexible joints. Its movements are controlled by the electric motor and varies from corkscrewing, wriggling to rolling movements, depending on the mode of travel determined by the software. It has specific movements such as sidewinding which is fast and requires good traction. Its slow inching movement is echoed with body undulations and works best in confined spaces. The rolling movement seems to work best on flat surfaces. The best part of the snakebot is its ability to rise and climb vertical obstacles and stairs. The snakebot has all the natural features of a real snake.
Other unique features of the snakebot

In addition to its resemblance and movements of a real snake, it has the ability to coil up and even infiltrate into sewage pipes. It can stand upright for a better view and crawl under floorboards unobtrusively. It comes equipped with audio bugs or explosive warheads for assassination missions. By shedding one of its segment these explosives can be dropped unnoticed.

With a laser radar camera, the snakebot can scan the distance by reflecting the surface area at 360 degrees. The software joins the dots of the readings into a 3-D mapping of the surrounding areas. The snakebot can also determine any threat line and can navigate towards hiding spots after assessing the area. It can as easily stay away from dangerous and exposed areas.

The snakebot easily detects approaching humans with four sets of directional microphones which produces sounds. The snakebot then compares the time and distance as each mic gives out the sounds. These sounds enable the snakebot to calculate the distance from a threat site. By using that data, the snakebot acts upon speed and determines whether it needs to hide.

The combined sensor of the snakebot is similar to those on other prototypes. It has certainly made a breakthrough in terms of technology for the next generation of surveillance robots.

About the author: Alyssa Clarke is a blogger who also happens to be a tech buff. She is always on a look out for tech stuff and is currently hunting for some cool free Android apps and galaxy tab accessories.