Mark Thompson in Time Magazine
With military recruitment a constant struggle, the U.S. Army is coming up with a new way to come up with bodies: it is going to build them. This week, the Army begins a “drive-off” to see what contractor is going to provide up to 1,000 bomb-clearing robots by year’s end, with a possible follow-on order for 2,000 more. The requirement is for a remote-controlled, wireless robot that weighs 50 pounds or less “to be used for Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detection and identification,” according to the Pentagon’s solicitation.
IEDs have killed 48.5% of the 3,270 U.S. troops killed in action in Iraq. Finding — and disarming — such roadside bombs before they detonate is one way to curb such bloodshed. “You send out a robot to interrogate these things to see if it is, in fact, a roadside bomb or if it’s just trash,” Army Colonel John Castles of the 82nd Airborne’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team said from Iraq last week. “They’re a huge benefit to what we’re trying to do.”