The U.S. Army is working on a robot to help make the rescue of injured soldiers safer without putting more lives at risk. The BEAR (Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot) can gently pick up people and transport them out of field of fire, all while being controlled by either an AcceleGlove or Mounted Force Controller from AnthroTronix (Silver Spring, MD). The AcceleGlove (previously iGlove) is a gesture recognition glove, while the Mounted Force Controller is a pistol grip for assault rifles featuring buttons that can send commands to the robot.
A computer simulation of the BEAR was created in 2009 for use in the Battle Lab’s One Semi-Autonomous Forces (OneSAF) combat operations simulator. An initial series of platoon-level assaults and clearing operations in both wooded and urban terrain were executed in OneSAF, including casualty extractions using both conventional litter rescues and rescues with the BEAR.
The AnthroTronix remote control systems were integrated with the simulation in December of 2009. In June of this year, the BEAR and AnthroTronix controllers underwent live characterization studies with Soldiers observing their capabilities in both urban and wooded terrain.
The BEAR is a multi-modal, high-degree-of-freedom robot that can reach out with its hydraulic arms to lift and carry up to 500 pounds; complete fine motor tasks with its hands and fingers; maneuver with a dual-track system; stand up and balance; and use cameras and sensors.
While the initial control of the BEAR is via a remote human operator, work is underway for more complicated semi-autonomous behaviors in which the robot understands and carries out increasingly higher-level commands.
AnthroTronix’s iGlove gesture-recognition device can control robots remotely through simple hand signals.