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Check out photos of machine gun-shooting robots at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Get fired up
The U.S. Army is looking to add armed robots to its inventory of weapons.
Last week four robotics companies took their robots, equipped with M240 machine guns, to a firing range at Fort Benning, Ga., to demonstrate their weaponized machines.
With a command from their human controllers, robots from all four companies -- Northrop Grumman, HDT Robotics, iRobot Corp. and QinetiQ – opened fire and hit pop-up targets on a ridge about 150 meters away. Using sensors, the robots can pinpoint the enemy, but military officers said a human will make the decision of whether the robot fires on them.
In this image, smoke and dust rise after HDT Robotics' robot, the Protector, fires at the targets.
HDT’s Protector on the firing range
HDT Robotics’ robot, the Protector, is ready to fire its M240 machine gun at the Red Cloud Range at Fort Benning. The robot, which is chained as a safety precaution, was one of four that demonstrated live fire capabilities for the military. Army officials said they wanted to get an idea of what technology is available to them.
Machine gun ammo
The robots demonstrating at Fort Benning last week were not firing blanks. The M240 machine gun, which each of the robots fired at the live-fire demonstration, uses a standard NATO 7.62mm round.
Weaponizing Northrop Grumman’s CaMEL robot
Army officers and soldiers check out Northrop Grumman’s CaMEL robot, as well as its M240 machine gun, before the robot aimed its weapon at the target.
The CaMEL gets ready to fire
Northrop Grumman’s CaMEL robot can be equipped with a machine gun, a grenade launcher, an automatic weapon and an anti-tank missile launcher. It also can be used to carry hundreds of pounds of supplies and to recharge soldiers’ batteries in the field.
Jason Lohse, of Northrop Grumman, uses a computer and a handheld device, both attached to his vest, to fire an M240 machine gun on the company's CaMEL robot. The vest, which weighs about 10 pounds, also carries a battery and a tablet that flips down from the soldier's chest so he can see what the robot sees. That means the soldier doesn't have to be physically near the target.
Ready for action
Northrop Grumman’s Jason Lohse can see what the robot sees via a tablet computer attached to his vest or on a drop-down eye piece attached to his helmet. Lohse operated the company’s robot during the live fire demo.
Northrop Grumman’s vest
A battery and connections for the Northrop Grumman vest are attached to the back of it. With the vest, a soldier can control the weaponized robot from a distance, enabling soldiers to stay back and protected while the robot engages the enemy.
QinetiQ’s Maars robot ready to go
QinetiQ was one of the four robotics companies that demonstrated their weaponized robots at the Army’s robotics demo last week. QinetiQ, which equipped its Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (Maars) with a machine gun, has robots that range from 10 pounds to more than 12,000 pounds working with the military.
iRobot gets to work
The iRobot team takes its robot out to the firing range. The military envisions having robots that work along side soldiers more as teammates than as tools. The idea is for the robots to either be air dropped or travel with the soldiers as they patrol on foot.