Anti-Sniper Robot


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Silver Bullet
October 5, 2005, 09:32 AM
http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2005/10/04/robotic_vacuum_maker_bu_team_up_on_antisniper_device/

Robotic-vacuum maker, BU team up on antisniper device
By Hiawatha Bray, Globe Staff | October 4, 2005

(Correction: Because of an editing error, a story in yesterday's Business section about an anti-sniper system developed by iRobot misidentified the date on which the company unveiled the system. It was demonstrated by iRobot on Monday at a convention of the Association of the United States Army in Washington.)

IRobot Corp. of Burlington, famous for its robotic vacuum cleaners, has teamed up with researchers at Boston University to develop a military robot capable of spotting enemy snipers.

''You'll actually see the sniper before the smoke disappears from the shot," said Joe Dyer, iRobot's executive vice president and general manager.

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.

Yet the entire system adds only about 5.5 pounds to the PackBot's weight. Thoren said it's small enough to mount on military vehicles or on the sides of buildings. That makes it much smaller than Boomerang, a competing antisniper technology being developed for the military by BBN Technologies Inc. in Cambridge.

Dyer said that in tests, the REDOWL detected gunfire sources with 94 percent accuracy, and can distinguish between guns. ''It can tell the difference between a 9 millimeter pistol and an AK-47 or an M-16," he said.

The machine also works in urban settings, where snipers are hard to spot because gunshot sounds echo off buildings. Dyer said REDOWL's software can detect the original sound source and ignore the echoes.

In theory, a REDOWL system could fire back at an enemy, but Thoren said the hardware isn't strong enough to support the weight of a gun. Besides, he said, it would be dangerous to have a weapon-toting robot that could open fire on its own.

''You need to have a man in the loop," he said.

Hiawatha Bray can be reached at bray@globe.com.

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Kharn
October 5, 2005, 10:15 AM
The PackBot is good stuff, my group has three of them.
It will be interesting to see how this pans out.

Kharn

Risasi
October 5, 2005, 11:11 AM
I would be curious to know how it fares against suppressed weapons.

ID_shooting
October 5, 2005, 12:10 PM
The Army already had systems in place to spot snipers. No amount of camo can make invisible to thermal optics. My expirience tell me that people stand out like a sopt light at night when loking through the optics in my M1.

Not that new toys aren't cool, but why spend a bunch of money to detect somthing that happens after the fact when you can just use a thermal scope and pick the sniper up before the shot ever took place.

Lucky
October 5, 2005, 01:55 PM
"No amount of camo can make invisible to thermal optics."

Invisible as transparent, no. Invisible as indistinguishable, yes. Done a fair bit of research, never used an Abrams though, but my theory suggests that indeed you can defeat thermal emissions.

In my research I even found 2 vague reports of Afghani's using heavy blankets to hide. Understandably, these reports are not widespread for 2 possible reasons - they're bunk, faslse, misnomers, or they are true and not something you want to inform the enemy about in a war.

And in researching TI the waveength bands used to detect humans are quite predictable. 3 windows, warm (human) hot, and very hot. If we had no atmosphere we would be able to detect the whole spectrum just as easily, but as it is there's interference.

So if you have a problem with thermal radiation, you block it. Or you reduce it. Tinfoil or some sort would block/reflect the IR, but the tinfoil itself might become warm from convection of th heated air your body heated, and then the tinfoil would be emitting IR! And a blanket, that might act as a semi-porous barrier, trapping cold-out and hot-air in, and allowing them to mix at the middle, but this still is only reducing your signature.

So you layer cloth and tinfoil, cloth and tinfoil. This way you have both effects keeping the thermal radiations from escaping. If your body heats the air in the first layer of cloth, then this air will heat the tinfoil. But not well, and that tinfoil would have to heat the next layer of cloth/air, and then that would have to heat the next layer of tinfoil, and so-on.

I've had socks that look like something a figure-skater would wear, for years and years. As seen on Tv gimick, spandex with flakes of reflective plastic mixed in. They are thin but they work.

Also, I say tinfoil to capture the imagination, but a space blanket would work just as well.

And that's back-yard stuff. If you look (being a tanker) at the Swiss you will see that they have a thick felt-like covering that they mount on their vehicles.


BTW doesn't the US already have a .50 bmg anti-sniper automatic weapon? CROWS or something?

KaceCoyote
October 5, 2005, 02:03 PM
50 bucks says this thing wont do jack in an urban enviroment. If I'm shooting from far enough away, I can make my shot and drop under hard cover before that thing even hears the shot. If i've got a supressor it may verywell be impossible.

Darth Ruger
October 5, 2005, 02:11 PM
Can this robot detect the source of the shot quickly enough to dodge the bullet when the sniper decides the first order of business is to take out the robot? :D

Silver Bullet
October 5, 2005, 02:17 PM
Robot War ! Bring along your Anti-AntiSniperRobot-Robot

KaceCoyote
October 5, 2005, 02:56 PM
I doubt this'll make a difference, Supressors will merely become more popular.

Brick
October 5, 2005, 03:30 PM
This stuff sounds like the droids in Star Wars.

No problem, I'll just break out the Clones.


:p

Testers struck pieces of metal to simulate gunshots.

At a range of like... 3 feet. ;)

but Thoren said the hardware isn't strong enough to support the weight of a gun.

What gun for robots? :evil:

Supressors will merely become more popular.

Yeah, and what are they gonna do about the MP5SDs?

Rabid Rabbit
October 5, 2005, 08:18 PM
Defeating thermal imaging is very possible and depending on the situation, very easy. BDUs are coated with a commonly available coating in grocery and stores like Walmart, as long as you don't create creases the BDU shows up as a cool area. Of course you still have to contend with the hands, feet and head of the wearer. I used to repair the thermal sights for GLLD, TOW, Dragon and Bradly. When the sight was adjusted correctly I could read name tags at 50 ft. not bad when you consider I'm reading the difference in thermal output between black and OD thread.

Lucky
October 5, 2005, 08:45 PM
Common coating, it is an insulator? It can't be PAM or something, right? Because that grease transmits heat too well. Or if it is pam, wink?


OK, spray silicon?

Graphite lube?

Give a hint, please, is it edible?

ctdonath
October 5, 2005, 09:28 PM
I vaguely recall some story about a demonstration of some anti-sniper technology being proudly demonstrated. A skeptical soldier borrowed an umbrella and wandered off. A few minutes later, using the umbrella and available foliage, he had snuck up the field onto both the device and onlookers. The gizmo was scrapped.

ctdonath
October 5, 2005, 09:30 PM
Assuming it works, the REDOWL system sounds like it would be useful against less-trained and -equipped shooters. Be aware of what it won't work on; as others note, suppressors will suddenly become more popular. Considering a supersonic bullet fired from a suppressed rifle has very different characteristics, the REDOWL may very well end up looking exactly 90 degrees in the wrong direction.

Standing Wolf
October 6, 2005, 12:12 AM
Sounds like yet another waste of billions upon billions of our hard-earned tax dollars to me. We've had the weapon we need since 1945. We've used it a grand total of twice.

Crosshair
October 6, 2005, 02:07 AM
One has to note that the small IR units used by troops are far inferior to the large, high quality units in an M1 or an Apache. Using road flares or even a fire can mask a position to IR. As mentoned, most all bullets are supersonic and a sniper moves after each shot so this system is essentially useless IMHO. Once the bullet has been fired it is too late. Plus would it be that hard to have some guy whacking away at a piece of sheet metal to distract this robot?

/just my $.02

thorn726
October 6, 2005, 04:02 AM
Sounds like yet another waste of billions upon billions of our hard-earned tax dollars to me. We've had the weapon we need since 1945. We've used it a grand total of twice.

yeah, let's nuke Iraq and let Israel figure out the nuclear winter.

with the speed of computers now, i would bet it will shortly follow that something could be hooked to this bot to respond pretty darn fast.
BESIDES, nice to overlook the obvious =

URBAN use. sniper in a large area, bot picks him out, rapid airstrike called in.
GPS to mortar unit perhaps?

destroy one building instead of a whole block. something like that

Double Naught Spy
October 6, 2005, 12:07 PM
The Army already had systems in place to spot snipers. No amount of camo can make invisible to thermal optics. My expirience tell me that people stand out like a sopt light at night when loking through the optics in my M1.

Not that new toys aren't cool, but why spend a bunch of money to detect somthing that happens after the fact when you can just use a thermal scope and pick the sniper up before the shot ever took place.

Ah the fallacy of military thinking. Since we all know that a person sniping must be part of a 1 or 2 man team, located somewhere particularly isolated from everyone else, such that their body heat would stand out against the background, then all people engaging in such activities must perform in a similar manner.

How do you use a thermal sight to spot a sniper in a crowd of people? Sure, a single stop light at night stands out, but what if it is with a couple of hundred other stop lights. Which is yours?

How do you spot a sniper behind an IR screen/shield?

ctdonath
October 6, 2005, 01:46 PM
Good ghillie suits suppress IR as well.

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