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US target practice: the $57m Aussie fall guys
July 27, 2010
7:02 am
Forum Posts: 4297
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April 9, 2009
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July 27, 2010.

The Rover robots look, move and behave like real people.

Three Sydney University PhD students who developed Terminator-style robots will soon see their technology trialled by US Marines sharpshooters in a $57 million coup.

Alex Brooks, Alex Makarenko and Tobias Kaupp have been plugging away on the robots for eight years at their company, Marathon Robotics, which is based at Sydney's Australian Technology Park in Eveleigh.

The Rover robots, the first such "smart targets" to ever be adopted for training exercises by the US military, are armoured autonomous robots that look, move and behave like real people. Australians troops are already using them for training.

The Rover robots look, move and behave like real people.

Teams of the robots can execute complex pre-planned scenarios and are intelligent enough to scatter and run for cover when a buddy robot is shot.

The robots, which weigh 150kg, are based on the Segway platform. They do not need to be controlled with a joystick and can accelerate up to 12.6km/h.

They use GPS and a scanning laser range-finder for navigation, positioning and obstacle detection and avoidance. The robots are networked so they can be monitored and issued commands remotely.

Rover was developed in conjunction with the Department of Defence and with support from the federal and NSW governments. Brooks would not say how much each robot costs.

The robots can be used for scenarios including sniper training, hostage rescue, escalation-of-force decision-making and executive protection. The mannequin on top drops back when hit and is made from durable plastic, so can withstand hundreds of shots.

"Our customers always stress that shooting a moving target is orders of magnitude more difficult than shooting a stationary or predictable target," said Marathon Robotics chief technology officer Alex Makarenko.

"We fully expect that training with live ammunition on smart targets will substantially improve moving marksmanship."

NSW Treasurer and Minister for State and Regional Development, Eric Roozendaal, said Rover was a great example of "world-beating NSW technology".

He said the NSW Government was helping Marathon Robotics target its technology to a range of international export markets including Europe.

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