Internet reviews

Industrial Robot

ISSN: 0143-991x

Article publication date: 1 October 2004




Rigelsford, J. (2004), "Internet reviews", Industrial Robot, Vol. 31 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Internet reviews

Keywords: Robotics, Military, Aerospace industry, Internet

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Centre

Since the early 1960s, the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Centre (SPAWAR) in San Diego and its predecessor organizations have been involved in various aspects of robotics research and development. This work is currently performed by two groups: the Advanced Systems Division (D37): land and air robots; and the Ocean Systems Division (D74): underwater robots. Research areas include: autonomous land robots, unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs), telepresence and virtual reality, and robotics for law enforcement.

This is quite a simple site, but is one that contains a newsletter, and an abundance of information on SPAWAR's activities, activities, components and suppliers.

The Register

The Register is a technology news site, providing light-hearted articles on a wide range of technology related subjects. This article “Robogrunt: the US military's plans for robot armies” includes summary details of how the US military intends to expand its current armoury of unmanned spyplanes and weapons with robot soldiers.

Essential Viewing

Essential Viewing provides a range of software products based on revolutionary video compression, serving and transmission technologies. Their products are used for security and law enforcement, CCTV monitoring via wireless and Internet remote vision, military operations, and corporate communications. Supporting military markets, Essential Viewing's TVI and associated products enables field reconnaissance and intelligence operatives to capture video in the field and to relay that immediately to analysis staff anywhere in the world. Their encoding technology can compress a 30s, full motion video clip to the size of a typical JPEG still image, while live streams can be sent over narrowband satellite systems. They supply finished products to end-users and offer software components to OEM partners. = ns99994075

New Scientist

The paper “Robot spy can survive battlefield damage” discusses a serpentine military reconnaissance robot being developed at a University College London, which can keep moving even if it gets damaged on the battlefield. When any of the robot's nitinol “muscle” segments are damaged, a genetic algorithm is used to change the way it wriggles across any terrain. The serpentine spy is a research project, funded by aerospace company BAE Systems to make a low-cost military robot that can be dropped out of helicopters to carry out reconnaissance missions.

A related paper “Military robots to get swarm intelligence” describes a project, funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) whereby a battalion of 120 military robots is to be fitted with swarm intelligence software to enable them to mimic the organised behaviour of insects.

United States Joint Forces Command – Project Alpha

Project Alpha fosters accelerated discovery, development and application of fresh ideas to issues of US defence and national security. It rapidly evaluates potential technologies, concepts and capabilities; proposes practical, near and long-term solutions to the defence and military communities; and identifies and assess ideas in order to accelerate joint military transformation.

Current and earlier projects include: near space or sub-orbital applications; swarming entities; unmanned effects: using robots to reduce injuries and deaths from military actions; and communications implications of distributed operations.

United States Joint Forces Command – Article

This paper describes how the US Joint Forces Command “Forward Look” series of experiments will continue to examine how to better integrate the wealth of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capabilities available to joint war-fighters. The project currently uses four types of UAVs, namely the endurance-type predator, the tactical shadow, and smaller UAVs, Scan Eagle and Silver Fox.


This is an extremely interesting site containing the NATO program of work studying “Multi robot systems in military domains”. The objectives of this work are to: assess the military purposes and tasks most suited for the application of the multi- robot system (MRS); develop approaches to assess and evaluate the application and utility of MRS technologies to meet military purposes; recommend high pay-off research needed to answer questions regarding the requirements and usefulness of MRS technology for military purposes; and identify potential issues in the areas of adjustable autonomy, human-robot interaction, distributed artificial intelligence, and collective, collaborative and co-operative behaviour.

Another relevant NATO document is RTO- MP-111 “Unmanned Military Vehicles as Force Multipliers” published in March 2004.

Hot sites

The Stanford University Aerospace Robotics Laboratory

As a part of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University, the Aerospace Robotics Laboratory focuses on improving robotic performance through the application of feedback control, integrated sensing systems, and task-level autonomy. Their research is developed and validated on experimental hardware systems, including both mobile robots (land, sea, sky, and space) and a variety of fixed manipulators for space and factory applications.

This is a superb site, which is well-worth visiting. It contains information about their projects, publications, personnel, and other research laboratories.

Boeing Phantom Works

This page contains information about Boeing's unmanned combat air vehicle (X-45). The unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) system is designed to prove the technological feasibility of multiple UCAVs autonomously performing extremely dangerous and high-priority combat missions. The system consists of two X-45A air vehicles, a reconfigurable mission control station, and a variety of supportability elements. The first such task envisioned for this system is the suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD). They also produce the UCAV-N for naval operations. This provides a robust surveillance, deep strike, and SEAD system that has low acquisition, operations and support costs.

Jon Rigelsford

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