ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 6, 2004 – Soldiers may have armed robots as battle buddies by early next year, according to industry and military officials attending the biennial Army Science Conference.
The Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System, or SWORDS, will be joining Stryker Brigade soldiers in Iraq when it finishes final testing, said Staff Sgt. Santiago Tordillos, a bomb disposal test and evaluation noncommissioned officer in charge with the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Directorate of the Army’s Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, N.J.
“We’re hoping to have them there by early 2005,” Tordillos said. “The soldiers I’ve talked to want them yesterday.”
The system consists of a weapons platform mounted on a Talon robot, a product of the engineering and technology development firm Foster-Miller.
The Talon began helping with military operations in Bosnia in 2000, deployed to Afghanistan in early 2002 and has been in Iraq since the war started, assisting with improvised explosive device detection and removal.
Talon robots have been used in about 20,000 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Foster-Miller reports.
“It’s not a new invention, it's just bringing together existing systems,” said Tordillos, who has been involved with the project since its inception about a year and a half ago.
Different weapons can be interchanged on the system – the M16, the 240, 249 or 50-caliber machine guns, or the M202 –A1 with a 6mm rocket launcher. Soldiers operate it by remote control, from up to 1,000 meters away.