Monday, February 2, 2015

Marine Corps considers new unmanned tank, micro-drones

Marine Corps considers new unmanned tank, micro-drones: The next member of your squad might carry a M240B machine gun with 400 rounds, a few sensors, and still manage to stay on pace for hours, despite weighing more than 350 pounds.

The Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory hopes that a machine gun toting robot can one day provide more firepower to foot patrols. Qinetiq's Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System, a tracked robot with cameras and a machine gun, was on display at Marine West, a defense expo here on Jan. 28. It was one of the handful unmanned systems that attracted crowds at the event.

The Warfighting Lab said MAARS could give Marines additional protection on patrols and while standing on post, and the lab is in the process of determining if the device is a good fit for the Corps.

"It's a medium machine gun that's not typically taken on patrol, so it increases a Marine's firepower" said Tim Brooks, an applications engineer at the Warfighting Lab.

Operated with a handheld controller, it provides a surveillance feed from thermal and video cameras. It can "stand post" for 12 hours if it doesn't move much and just uses its cameras. It can also be left in "sleep mode" for just over a week, Brooks said.

But it has limits, he said. It's too small to ram through doors to enter a room, and it's too big to move smoothly through tight corridors.