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Ivan Kirigin's views on Robotics & Culture: future. perfect. progress.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

"Robotic-vacuum maker, BU team up on antisniper device"

IRobot demonstrated the system, called REDOWL (for Robot Enhanced Detection Outpost with Lasers), at the Association of the United States Army convention in Washington yesterday. Testers struck pieces of metal to simulate gunshots. REDOWL quickly aimed its infrared camera and laser rangefinder at the source of the noise, just as it did in tests at a Medfield gun range.

REDOWL is based on iRobot's PackBot, a battery-powered lightweight robot already in active service with the armed forces. PackBots are used to explore dangerous terrain or enter buildings to search for booby traps.

Glenn Thoren, deputy director of the Boston University Photonics Center, wondered if an antisniper system could be mounted atop a PackBot. He used laser rangefinder gear from Insight Technology Inc. in Londonderry, N.H., and sound-detection equipment developed by BioMimetic Systems, an acoustics start-up company founded by Boston University. The REDOWL also includes a Sony digital camera that can zoom in on distant objects or people, and display infrared images at night. When REDOWL's microphones detect a gunshot, the device calculates the source of the sound, swivels the camera, illuminates the target with either visible or infrared light, and uses a laser to calculate the range.


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