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Now, teddy bear-faced robot to help injured soldiers in battlefields

Washington, Sun, 01 Apr 2012 ANI

Washington, Apr 1 (ANI): Scientists have designed a 500-pound teddy bear that is capable of lifting and carrying an injured fighter out of harm's way.

However, the Bear robot, which is six feet tall and made of aluminium, is no robo-doc and it won't apply tourniquets or sweep for bullets on a fallen buddy anytime soon, Fox News reported.

A unit with a Bear tagalong would instead be able to deploy it to recover a casualty rather than having to dismount or even drive to the site, thereby reducing risk to personnel, and potentially freeing up more time for real medics.

According to the company, a next-generation Bear could potentially administer basic first aid, including affixing a tourniquet.

The Bear, from Vecna Robotics, is supported by the U.S. Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), which is a part of the Army's Medical Research and Material Command (USAMRMC), as well as the U.S. Navy and the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA).

The robot has three components - dynamic balancing behaviour, a hydraulic-controlled upper body, and an agile mobility platform with two independent sets of tracks that act as "legs."

An operator controls the Bear remotely with a joystick, mobile device, game console or computer, using cameras and microphones that allow him to see and hear what the Bear sees and hears.

The current prototype is fitted with maneuverable hands so Bear can more gently scoop up casualties - with arms so strong just one of the six-inch fingers can lift a 100-pound weight ten times a second, yet so gentle they can handle eggs and lightbulbs, Vecna said.

Tight doorways and stairs aren't a problem for this Bear. It's narrow enough to squeeze through, and even make stairs look easy while carrying a human-sized dummy.

Bear can effortlessly shift between terrains; while on smooth surfaces it uses wheels.

But when it encounters rubble, it can switch to kneeling tracked "legs." The gyro-balance system and two-wheeled tracked base provide Bear with considerable mobility for uneven, rough terrain.

When speed is necessary, it also provides dynamic balancing for high-speed mobility. Bear currently cruises at 8 to 10 miles an hour, but Vecna says this could be easily be cranked up if needed.

The latest Bear has far more autonomy than earlier models. It can get from A to B on its own in an unstructured environment. And it can identify, grasp, lift, and carry objects on its own.

To keep a low profile on the battlefield, Vecna plans a segmented track to allow the robot to tilt forward or backward, bend at the knees to collect a casualty, and even crawl.

The segmented design will also help the robot to recover after being knocked over from any position, or from falling over.

In fact, the Bear is so jam-packed with remarkable advancements that components of it have been routinely spun off to launch other programs, such as QC Bot, supported by the same heavy hitting sponsors.

Although the bear is currently aluminum, it could very easily be armoured up and outfitted against chemical and biological agents. (ANI)

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