US army set for "hopping rotochut" that hops to avoid rubble trouble

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London, September 19 (ANI): The U.S. army's fleet of robots will soon be enhanced with the addition of forthcoming reconnaissance craft called the 'hopping rotochute', which will be capable of travelling deep into obstacle-ridden spaces like caves and rubble-laden buildings to video what it finds.

The self-righting probe is being developed for the Army Research Lab in Aberdeen, Maryland, by Eric Beyer and Mark Costello, a pair of robotics engineers at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

The project attains significance because present-day military robots, which run on small tank-style tracks, cannot cope with irregular surfaces and obstacles such as rubble or boulders.

"They usually have trouble and get stuck with even low obstacles and walls a couple of feet high," says Costello.

Although small helicopters are one alternative, continuous flying drains the batteries fast.

Thus, Costello stresses the need for a rotor-powered, bottom-heavy, self-righting vehicle that spends most of its time on the ground, conserving battery power.

AS to whether repeated hopping might harm the craft, a spokesman for the Impact Centre at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, UK, said: "From a crashworthiness point of view this concept looks perfectly feasible. There should be no problem with the vehicle surviving hundreds of impacts, which is roughly equivalent to dropping a mobile phone from waist height." (ANI)

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