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More Than 2000 Robots Serving In Afghanistan


(Wired.com/National Defense) ~ There are currently more than 2,000 robots serving in Afghanistan alongside U.S. combat forces.

According to the USMC's top robot handler Lieutenant Colonel Dave Thompson, that would mean 1 in 50 U.S. troops is not even human. And the swelling ranks of America's groundbot warriors are being used in new, unexpected, life-saving ways. They first made their way into service as bomb-disposal units, like the Talon or PackBot, and were used to disable explosive devices. But, as Thompson pointed out at a Washington D.C. trade show, "Robots are not just for explosive ordnance disposal teams anymore" he said, "they (ground troops) are using them in ways we never expected.” He also said a third of the 1,400 robots deployed in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010 were not for EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal).

One unit used their four-wheeler sized M-160 robot, a tracked vehicle fitted with a flail for detonating buried mines, to pave the way in front of a manned Husky bomb detonator of similar construction. National Defense magazine reported that Thompson showed a video of the process in action, which resulted in the M-160 being destroyed. “That would have otherwise been the Husky and its occupants,” the magazine helpfully pointed out. Robots are also being used to inspect vehicles at roadside check points, and Thompson also said that many other uses for the unmanned ground vehicles are still classified.

Photo credit: QuinetiQ

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