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Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot

The Massachusetts based company Vecna Robotics is developing an ambitious plan to create a humanoid robot capable of extracting wounded soldiers from danger zones such as battlefields, nuclear and chemical contaminated areas and collapsed buildings. If all goes well, the robot which was developed for the US Army will be ready to extract a soldier including his or her equipment out of harms’ way by the early 2010’s.

The Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (BEAR), currently under development by Vecna, is capable of crossing bumpy ground thanks to a combination of gyroscopes and computer-controlled motors that help it to maintain its balance much like a Segway vehicle.  

The BEAR is currently in proof-of-concept development stage. A prototype of the BEAR robot was built and outfitted with a powerful torso and arms, along with a dynamic balancing system on two wheels. The robot prototype has demonstrated picking up a fully-weighted human dummy, and carrying the dummy around in its arms while dynamically balanced in an upright position for over 50 minutes without break. The BEAR underwent several prototype versions – the 2006 model was able to lift weight in excess of 360 pounds (163kg), while the more recent version is capable of lifting 260 pounds (117kg) in one arm alone.     

The BEAR joins a growing number of robotic projects currently under development for the U.S. army which are intended to assist troops in the battlefield in various missions including long range reconnaissance, carrying of heavy payloads and medical evacuation. TFOT recently covered the BigDog four legged robotic mule under development by Boston Dynamics, Carnegie Mellon University’s 6.5-ton "Crusher" Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicle (UGCV) and the Giant Spider Bot concept developed by designer Marcos Nolan from the University of Washington. 

More information on the BEAR can be found on Vecna Robotics website

Image: BEAR prototype carrying a dummy (Credit: Vecna Robotics).