QinetiQ’s North America subsidiary Foster-Miller unveils ‘transformer-like’ robotic platform

09 Oct 2007

Interchangeable weapon and manipulator arm featured in new modular design

QinetiQ North America’s Foster-Miller Inc subsidiary has introduced a totally new ‘transformer-like’ modular design robotic platform to its popular line of TALON® and SWORDS robots for military and first responders.

The current TALON robot is designed with a manipulator arm and gripper for identification and neutralisation of roadside bombs and related tasks. Similarly the SWORDS robot is fitted with an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon for use by infantry forces to secure checkpoints and to conduct armed reconnaissance. Now Foster Miller’s newest military robot, named MAARS™ (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System), is modular in design, uses the more powerful M240B Medium Machine Gun and has significant improvements in command and control, situational awareness, manoeuvrability, mobility, lethality and safety, compared to its SWORDS predecessor.

The purpose-built MAARS chassis provides a uni-body frame with easier battery and electronics accessibility. Other features include a larger payload bay, higher torque, creating faster ground speeds and improved braking. The new Digital Control Unit significantly improves command and control and situational awareness for the operator resulting in greater safety margins. The complete system weighs about (160 kg) 350 pounds.

MAARS will also come with a new manipulator arm having a nominal (45 kg) 100 lb lift capability. The arm can quickly replace the turret mounted M240B weapon, literally ‘transforming’ it from a remote weapons platform for force protection to an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) identification and neutralisation tool. The MAARS robot will not only permit units to employ multiple mission payloads but production of common chassis and Digital Control Units will also lead to economies of scale resulting in lowered customer costs.

“Foster-Miller is proud to introduce the new MAARS robot to the US Military personnel who risk their lives every day defending our freedom,” said Dr Bill Ribich President of QinetiQ North America’s Technology Solutions Group. “The challenge before us now isn’t technological in nature but rather the widespread training of our forces to use this greatly enhanced robotic capability.”

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QinetiQ’s North America subsidiary Foster-Miller unveils ‘transformer-like’ robotic platform