QinetiQ today announced that QinetiQ North America’s Technology Solutions Group has shipped the first MAARS ground robot to the US military under a contract from the Explosive Ordnance Disposal/Low-Intensity Conflict (EOD/LIC) Program within the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office (CTTSO). MAARS (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System) is the first fully modular ground robot system capable of providing a measured response including non-lethal, less-lethal and even lethal stand-off capabilities.
The MAARS system is an agile, combat-ready robot that is remotely controlled by the operator. The robot contains advanced processing capabilities and features a uni-body chassis with a plug-and-play design, which allows for ready use of new and evolving accessories and attachments. MAARS also comes with an easy-to-learn digital control system that provides comprehensive situational awareness that works up to a range of over one kilometre from the operator, effectively extending the reach of the operator and enhancing his survivability.
MAARS was developed with safety as the number one goal. Based on feedback gleaned from numerous tests and demonstrations at military facilities across the US, along with experience gained from the US Army safety-certified features of SWORDS, MAARS gives the warfighter the ability to provide a measured response no matter the situation. Additionally, MAARS will continue to be tested exhaustively under various conditions in the coming months to ensure full compliance with standards and a safety release for fielding.
“The US government has been working with us over the last 18 months to develop and provide an innovative and evolutionary approach to combat situations that address the battlefield of the future,” said Dr William Ribich, President of the Technology Solutions Group, QinetiQ North America. “The MAARS robot, building on valuable experience gained with our SWORDS robot system in Iraq, is now ready to provide the needed core platform to develop tactics, techniques and procedures for using armed, yet human-controlled, robotic ground systems.”
One of the most innovative capabilities of MAARS is the ability to apply non-lethal force by projecting the operator’s voice through mounted loudspeakers, or alternatively to pulse a green, eye-safe laser to dazzle people. In addition, MAARS’ two-way communication features allow the operator to interact from a safe distance. MAARS also has the capability to launch 40mm less-lethal ammunition, such as bean bags, smoke, star clusters and pepper spray, and lethal ammunition. If lethal action is required, an operator can launch 40mm high-explosive grenades or engage with the powerful M240B medium machine gun firing 7.62mm ammunition.
“We jointly developed the MAARS robot with the military in order to enhance the warfighter’s capability and lethality, extend his situational awareness and provide all these capabilities across the spectrum of combat,” added Dr Ribich. “With today’s enemies engaging in asymmetric warfare, no encounter is ever completely safe. MAARS’ modularity and groundbreaking levels of force escalation will help to save both troops lives as well as non-combatants in the area.”
MAARS comes with tracks that can traverse all terrains, including stairs, and it is also capable of using wheels to increase speed and further reduce noise. The robot’s turret system is able to support a drop-in manipulator arm, multiple types of weapons and a wide range of sensor packages. Additional features include up to seven cameras with multi-modal capabilities. In the MAARS weapons-configured system, the operator always sees where the weapon is pointed in relation to himself and other friendly forces.
MAARS is currently the largest and also one of the newest members of the TALON family of QinetiQ North America robots, which recently shipped its 2000th robot to the military.