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TALON Small Mobile Robot

TALON is a powerful, lightweight, versatile robot designed for missions ranging from reconnaissance to weapons delivery. Its large, quick-release cargo bay accommodates a variety of sensor payloads, making TALON a onerobot solution to a variety of mission requirements. Built with all-weather, day/night and amphibious capabilities standard, TALON can operate under the most adverse conditions to overcome almost any terrain. The suitcase-portable robot is controlled through a two-way RF or F/O line from a portable or wearable Operator Control Unit (OCU) that provides continuous data and video feedback for precise vehicle positioning.

Built with all-weather, day/night and amphibious capabilities standard, TALON can operate under the most adverse conditions to overcome almost any terrain. The portable robot is controlled through either a two-way RF or F/O line from a portable or wearable Operator Control Unit (OCU) that provides continuous data and video feedback for precise vehicle positioning.

TALON's payload and sensor options include: multiple cameras (color, black and white, infrared, thermal, zero light), a two-stage arm, gripper manipulators, pan/tilt, two-way communications, NBC (nuclear/biological/chemical) sensors, radiation sensors, UXO/countermine detection sensors, grenade and smoke placing modules, breaching tools, communications equipment, distracters and disrupters.

The TALON robot is used for bomb disposal. It is operated by radio frequency and equipped with four video cameras that enable troops to determine which areas enemy soldiers occupy. In addition, the TALON is waterproof up to 100 feet, allowing it to search for explosives off-land. The TALON also was used to locate victims and debris at the World Trade Center. It was developed for the EOD Technology Directorate of the Army's Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, NJ by the engineering and technology development firm Foster-Miller.

The Talon began helping with military operations in Bosnia in 2000, deployed to Afghanistan in early 2002 and has been in Iraq since the war started, assisting with improvised explosive device detection and removal. Talon robots had been used in about 20,000 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan by the end of 2004.

The Pathfinder Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration [ACTD], sponsored by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command with the ACTD and Urban Technology Office at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center serving as technical manager, is an effort to integrate unmanned ground vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles and unattended smart sensors into a mobile, self-forming and self-healing network. The network enhances situational awareness, command, control and communications to commanders and assault forces operating in urban areas. Pathfinder leveraged the Talon robot, which is commonly used for jobs best avoided by warfighters, such as entering a booby-trapped cave. The ACTD is integrating the Special Operations Forces Laser Aiming Module used to send a coded laser to guide smart munitions to a target. It's on the robot, so you don't expose soldiers. You can clearly identify targets without having Soldiers get into harm's way. By using a radio relay attached to it, troops can drive it out to longer and more useful distances.

Soldiers have armed robots as battle buddies by early 2005. The Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System, or SWORDS, joins Stryker Brigade Soldiers in Iraq when it finished final testing. The system consists of a weapons platform mounted on a Talon robot. It's not a new invention, its just bringing together existing systems.

The Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center and Army Special Operations Command jointly hosted a demonstration of modular payload systems on robotic platforms from 14-17 July 2004 at Avon Park Bombing Range, FL. The demonstration started with a Talon robot driving over anti-personnel land mines to place an explosive charge on an anti-tank mine, followed by a live fire of all three armament systems engaging targets out to 450 meters in single fire and automatic fire modes. Visitors to the demo watched the live fire events and then received detailed briefings on the operation of the systems.

Different weapons can be interchanged on the system - the M16, the 240, 249 or 50-caliber machine guns, or the M202 -A1 with a 6mm rocket launcher. Soldiers operate the SWORDS by remote control, from up to 1,000 meters away. In testing, it's hit bulls eyes from as far as 2,000 meters away. The only margin of error has been in sighting. It can engage while on the move, but it's not as accurate.

The system runs off AC power, lithium batteries or Singars rechargeable batteries. The control box weighs about 30 pounds, with two joysticks that control the robot platform and the weapon and a daylight viewable screen. SWORDS was named one of the most amazing inventions of 2004 by Time Magazine.

As of late 2004 there were four SWORDS in existence; 18 were requested for service in Iraq. Each system has cost about $230,000 to produce. When they go into production, it is estimated the cost per unit will drop to the range of $150,000 to $180,000.

While many people are fearful that armed robots will run amok on the battlefield, this was not an issue for the demonstration. The robots employ a "man in the loop" where the robots are always under the direct control of a soldier. The soldier issues commands to the robot and the small arms weapons through the robot's operator control unit. The soldier also issues commands to the rocket and grenade launchers through a newly developed Remote Firing and Control System. This firing and control system, which was developed by Duke Pro, allows a single soldier to control up to five separate firing systems using a 40 bit encryption security system.




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