Recon Scout Robot At 2012 ICRA
May 16, 2012

Recon Scout Robot At 2012 ICRA

Lee Rannals for

Robots are integrated in our lives already, from a Dasani drink dispensing machine, to self-checkout counters at grocery stores.

However, the robotic technology that has the most benefit to man is not your average drink delivery system, it´s those being utilized by the U.S. military.  There are plenty of sci-fi type robots that are being built by DARPA, but one little robot at the 2012 International Conference on Robotics and Automation makes the top of the list for effectiveness.

The Recon Scout XT is a handheld robot that can be thrown into the abyss, and is equipped with a camera so the mysterious becomes known.

The 7.6-inch robot is already being used by the military to scout out areas that may be unsafe for troops to enter.

A Marine could throw the robot into a room or on top of the roof of a building, then remotely command it to roam around, all the while the camera on the bot is transmitting what is being seen back to a screen on the remote control.

The Recon Scout XT is extremely quiet, so it is able to sneak around any atmosphere, barely making a sound.  At 20-feet away, the robot only makes 22 decibels of noise, compared to a very soft whisper, which is 30 decibels.

The robot weighs in at a pound, and is capable of taking a beating.  When I was able to demo one at the conference, the booth operator asked me to throw it onto the roof of a mock-building that looked like something in Afghanistan.  But the robot didn't quite make it to the top of the ceiling.  Instead, it hit a wall about 20 feet up, and landed right back on the ground, with no bruises and ready to roam around again.

The robot is able to run through rough terrain like rocks, as well as water.  It is already being used by over 350 tactical teams, according to Recon Robotics, its maker.

Back in February, the U.S. Army ordered 1,100 of the Recon Scout XTs.  The company said that over the past six months, it had received 1,800 orders for the robots.

The scout works on three frequencies and allows anyone to operate up to three of the robots at once, covering multiple floors.

It is also equipped with an infrared optical system, automatically turning on when the ambient light is low, helping the operators see exactly what lies ahead of them.