and other parts of the military, working with defense contractors and other private companies. They all have the potential to change the face of war.
One of the tiniest robots in development about the size of a fingertip -- the Meshworm moves and acts like a small earthworm. It propels itself inch by inch, using artificial muscles that mimic the way an earthworm moves, by stretching one part of itself forward, then pulling the rest of its body along behind it.
The Meshworm can move silently into the tiniest places to report back data, such as temperatures inside a confined space. It can also record audio and maybe even video infuture versions. Made entirely of synthetic fibrous material, it's nearly indestructible.You can step on it or hit it with a hammer and it will keep going because the fibers are not damaged by impact.
Microwave Ray Gun
This weapon is designed to inject blasts of sound directly into a person's head from a couple of hundred yards away. Microwaves enter the head directly through the skull, not the ear, so protective earplugs are useless. The inner ear will sense the microwave and recognize it as sound. And the microwave blast can be adjusted to create different kinds of sounds.
Versions being developed include bulk microwave-emitting systems for the Army and small, rifle-style versions for the Marines and special operations forces. Some early versions have been field-tested in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's also envisioned that police could use versions of the gun for crowd control-- "sound bullets" instead of nonlethal rubber pellets.
In the near future,soldiers will receive their live-fire training and marksman training with the aid of special, robotically controlled Segway personal transport devices. Specially armored Segways, adapted by Marathon Targets of Sydney, Australia, are called "smart targets." 'They can move in a lifelike manner with unpredictable turns, stops and sprints, as would a real live target. Lifelike hardened plastic dummies on the Segways can be made up to look like enemies in uniform, terrorists or assassins.
Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots
PAL Robotics in Barcelona, Spain, is developing advanced bipedal robots that can recognize people, enter buildings, avoid obstacles and pick up objects in their "hands."
They also have voice recognition systems that can take verbal commands.
The military envisions using these robots to enter buildings in danger zones or to bring emergency medical supplies across battle zones to help wounded soldiers. For peace time, they'll include robots that can serve drinks and snacks at public receptions, trade shows, parties, etc.
With the look and size of a lightning bug, this tiny robotic fly will be sent on reconnaissance missions in areas too dangerous for soldiers, including places contaminated by chemical or biological weapons. It weighs less than a pin and can be remotely controlled in flight. Developed at Harvard with support from DARPA, the Flybot engineers say it could also be used to find hidden chemical bombs.