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Old 12-01-2006, 11:20 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Now those crazy Koreans are developing robotic warhorses

Mobile Combat Robots to Debut by 2015


By Jung Sung-ki
Staff Reporter



The Army will develop unmanned tactical mobile robots for reconnaissance and search-and-surveillance missions by 2015 as part of programs to meet the security challenges of future warfare, Army officials said Wednesday.
The plan is part of the Army's 20-year, three-phase combat robot development scheme to build three types of robot systems for use in combat, he said.
``We are confident that these robots will play a key role in assisting our ground troops in effectively addressing various security initiatives such as anti-terrorist operations,'' an Army official said, asking not to be named.
The Agency for Defense Development (ADD), a state-funded think tank, will take the lead in developing the multi-role robots with the technological support of private industrial counterparts such as the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), the official said.
``The Army plans to form a joint research team with ADD officials sometime soon to manufacture sophisticated robots suitable for Korean geographical features,'' the official said, adding that the ADD already has 30 core technologies related to the robot systems.
In the first stage, the team plans to build the portable reconnaissance robot and landmine detection vehicles by 2015, according to ADD officials affiliated with the Defense Ministry.
Weighing less than 20 kilograms fully loaded, the versatile reconnaissance robot, modeled after the U.S. Army's iRobot PackBot EOD, can be hand-carried and deployed by a single operator with a remote control. Its main mission is to patrol inside enemy areas and disrupt difficult-to-access improvised explosive devices, an ADD spokesman said.
The robot will be equipped with extendable arms, a sensor to detect chemical weapons, explosives and smoke bombs. Once completed, the devices will be deployed to infantry and anti-terrorist units.
The 4.8-ton landmine detection vehicle will be similar to the U.S. Army's Meerkat vehicles for spotting buried anti-personnel or anti-tank landmines and search for bombs and other threats to soldiers.
The Army wants to build mobile combat robots to fight alongside soldiers on the battlefield by 2020 in the second phase. The horse-like robot will be armed with various weapons and operated both by remote control and its own intelligence scheme. It will have six or eight extendable legs with wheels allowing it to move like an insect over uneven terrain. By 2025, it plans to introduce unmanned state-of-the-art vehicles for use in heavy combat. Equipped with large-caliber weapons, the vehicles will be designed to be operational under any weather conditions.
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