Testing products in the theater is very beneficial to the testing process in that all factors are considered. If the project is tested in a controlled environment the full effect might not be achieved, Cohen said.
"There have been several cases where we had a suspected improvised explosive device and were not comfortable going up there ourselves," said 2nd Lt. Brian James Duncan, platoon leader, 2nd Platoon, Company C, 612th Engineer Battalion, Ohio Army National Guard. "If the improvised explosive device is large enough to take out our vehicles, we send the MARCBOT instead, because we don’t want to risk the lives of the several soldiers manning the vehicle."
There have also been cases when other pieces of equipment can’t reach into places like drainage ditches, or underneath things like crosswalks.
"We can’t always take every piece of equipment we have off-road, but we can take the MARCBOT off-road," Duncan said. "Out vehicles have the potential to get stuck if we take them into too-rough terrain, and that poses a whole new problem of exposing ourselves while we try to get the vehicle un-stuck."
There are also a lot of anti-personnel mines off of the road, which poses another risk with taking vehicles off-road, making the MARCBOT extremely useful in a variety of circumstances, Duncan continued.
"Say there was a suspicious looking bag 60 meters off of the road. It could be a bomb or a small weapons cache," Duncan explained. "Our best option is to send the MARCBOT out there to check it out. For all of these reasons I think the MARCBOT is a valuable piece of equipment for us to have."
The MARCBOT would also be an important tool for infantry and other units, Duncan continued.
"If units came upon a suspicious looking object, they could check it out with the MARCBOT. It would save time for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams, because they wouldn't have to come out to confirm or deny the object. The MARCBOT could do that," Duncan said.
"It would be useful for the infantry because often they have to patrol streets and alleys that are too small to be navigated by vehicles," Duncan continued. "There are a lot of situations where EOD might not be able to go where the infantry goes."
"I can definitely see these robots having a much more instrumental role in this and the following years than they did at the beginning of the conflict, due to the fact that a lot of the improvised explosive devices are on the small secondary streets," Duncan added.
Thanks to the successful field testing of the MARCBOT, mass distribution of the latest model is scheduled for the end of September, 2005.