If all goes as planned, a pint-sized robot that can spot enemy fighters hiding inside buildings and detect booby traps on rooftops will soon join U.S. soldiers on the battlefield. How does the Recon Scout XT robot work? Here, a brief guide:
How small are these robots?
The devices — two small spiky wheels connected by a camera-equipped handle — weigh just 1.2 pounds. They're compact enough that fighters can throw them, like grenades, up to 120 feet, over a wall, into a room, onto a roof, or anywhere else they suspect danger might lurk. "You can throw it as hard as you want," says Ernest Langdon, military director for the Scout's maker, ReconRobotics. "It's designed to take 30-foot drops onto concrete." (Watch a video below.)
How do the gadgets work?
As soon as they land, the robots begin streaming video back to monitors that soldiers can watch. Controlled remotely with a joystick, the Recon Scout XT can be rotated to take in a full, 360-degree view. It's even equipped with night-vision technology, and can last for several minutes in up to a foot of water.
When will Marines have these robots in the field?
Soon. Under a $1.7 million contract, ReconRobotics is due to deliver 126 Recon Scout XTs to the military for testing. Between them, the Marines and Army have ordered another 1,000, at about $13,000 per bot.
Take a look at the Recon Scout XT in action: