What has the capability to strengthen homeland security, produce a ball’s-eye view of a soccer match and swim underwater with dolphins? GuardBot: the latest development in unmanned amphibious vehicle systems.
The cutting-edge spherical robot was developed by Connecticut-based American Unmanned Systems. The 54-pound bot can roll over the roughest terrain including snow, mud, rocks and sand and is the only unmanned amphibious device that is capable of navigating through water. Its motion drive system is operated by an internal battery-powered pendulum that can operate for up to eight hours on one charge. The mechanism propels the ball by shifting the center of gravity, allowing back and forth movements and 360° turns. GuardBot can maintain speeds of 6 mph on land and 3 mph in water.
Originally designed in 2004 to rove across the Martian terrain for a European Space Agency mission, GuardBot is currently being used for military and commercial applications. Its main tasks are guard and reconnaissance duty and rescue missions. Moving in virtual silence, the robot sentry can be programmed to operate by GPS or remotely controlled by an operator, permitting unobtrusive surveillance as well as inspection and identification of surrounding areas and objects.
GuardBot is undergoing tests by the Marines in Quantico, Va., and Camp LeJeune, N.C. Its commercial applications include dolphin research at The Florida Aquarium and a recent deployment during a live soccer match at Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium.
GuardBot Inc. is currently working to enhance the device’s systems by improving control, extending battery life and adding radiation detectors, imaging devices, advanced radios, and sonars.