The Army, Marine Corps and the Pentagon's Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) are working to procure and deliver thousands of small, easily transportable "throwable" robots equipped with surveillance cameras designed to beam back video from confined spaces, buildings, tunnels and other potentially dangerous locations. After studying which commercially-available technologies might meet the needs of the JUONS (Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement) and testing numerous small robots to establish quantitative data with the National Institute for Standards and Technology, JIEDDO chose three lightweight, "throwable" robots to combat-test in Afghanistan. The three units selected were iRobot's 110 First Look robot, MacroUSA's Armadillo V2 Micro Unmanned Ground Vehicle, and QinetiQ North America's Dragon Runner.

About 50 of each of these robots will be deployed with forces in different parts of Afghanistan in order to assess the capability of the "throwbots" to perform across different types of combat terrain. The bots will be placed with infantry, engineering, and explosive ordnance disposal units, among others. The theater assessment in Afghanistan, called an "OCONUS" trail, or Outside the Continental United States, is aimed at developing requirements regarding the tasks the systems will need to perform.

At the moment, many units use the Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle 320, a small tactical robot equipped with video reconnaissance technology that is 32 pounds. The Recon Scout XT Throwbot, in comparison, weighs just 1.2 pounds, and is designed to withstand a 30-foot vertical drop. Shaped like a barbell with wheels at each end of a titanium tube, it can capture images using a built-in camera, antenna and illuminator. QinetiQ's Dragon Runner weighs about 14-pounds and includes cameras, motion-detectors and an optional small manipulator arm able lift about 10-pounds. iRobot's First Look is about 10-inches long, weighs less than five pounds, and has four built-in cameras facing different directions.

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Defense