web counter Media Lies: When is a Sword not a sword?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

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When is a Sword not a sword?

When it's a cutting-edge killer robot. No, really.
Time Magazine named it "one of the most amazing inventions of 2004," but to terrorists in Iraq it may be the scariest. By April, GIs in Iraq will be deploying 18 robots so small they could almost crawl between your legs. But don't let size fool you; these motorized midgets pack a powerful punch. They can fire anything from a light machine gun to a six-barreled 40 millimeter grenade launcher or multiple rocket systems.

The Sword is the first armed variant of a track-wheeled robot developed by Foster-Miller of Waltham, Massachusetts called the TALON. That machine proved itself in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq in removing mines and other explosives. TALON robots have now completed more than 20,000 such missions and I was proud to find Internet photos of my former unit using them to protect Afghans.

The robo-warrior version has no independent capabilities like a T1 Terminator; rather it uses an outside operator with a viewing screen and joystick control. And like its flying cousin the Predator, its main job isn't killing but reconnaissance. Swords can be equipped with off-the-shelf chemical, gas, temperature, and radiation sensors. They carry up to seven cameras of any combination including thermal, night vision, zooms, and wide area.
Considering how successful the Predator has been, this has to be very good news.