US military plans robot swarms

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Weapons manufacturers are planning the next generation of military robots using designs based on creatures from the natural world..

BAE Systems had signed a US$38 million contract with the US Army Research Laboratory to develop autonomous intelligence-gathering robots for use in military operations.

These include flying surveillance robots based on dragonflies, and ground-based systems which mimic spiders.

BEA Systems is a partner in the Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology Collaborative Technology Alliance which aims to have models on the market by 2013.

"Robotic platforms extend the fighter's senses and reach, providing operational capabilities that would otherwise be costly, impossible or deadly to achieve," said Dr Joseph Mait, cooperative agreement manager for the Army Research Laboratory.

Also involved are the University of California at Berkeley, the California Institute of Technology and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of New Mexico, and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University.

"The technologies that will be developed represent capabilities and techniques that will influence nearly all of the products that BAE Systems will develop and produce in the future," said Steve Scalera, programme manager for BAE Systems in Merrimack, New Hampshire.

"We and our alliance partners have committed our brightest minds to make the Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology programme a success."
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