A robot could soon be a soldier's best friend on the battlefield under a proposal being developed by the Pentagon.
The mechanical warrior, called Bear, looks like an oversized toy with a teddy bear's face. However, it can squeeze through doorways while carrying a wounded serviceman.
The 6ft-tall remote-controlled device can travel long distances over bumpy terrain and carry out the toughest assignments.
Bear, short for Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot, is part of the new generation of "steel soldiers" being developed for Afghanistan and Iraq, reports New Scientist.
More on the program from the company developing it, VECNA Technologies:
The BEAR: Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot™
The patent-pending BEAR robot is Vecna Robotics' flagship program. Designed to find, pick up and rescue people in harm's way, the humanoid BEAR robot can do what humans can't: Lift heavy loads and carry them long distances. Whether on a battlefield, in a nuclear reactor core, near a toxic chemical spill, or inside a structurally-compromised building after an earthquake, the BEAR can rescue those in need as well as or better than humans can, without risking additional human life.
Above: Visualization of the BEAR robot PV2 carrying an injured servicemember.
The Vecna Robotics BEAR project has won key seed funding in the form of a grant from the US Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), a part of the US Army Medical Research and Material Command (USAMRMC).
One question: why only seed funding? This deserves full development funding, so it can go operational sooner than the projected four to five years from now.