Saturday, April 14, 2012

'Shrike' is a flying robot designed to keep soldiers safer [Video]

Fort Leonard Wood, MO (KSDK)- A flying robot designed to help fight the enemy. The advanced technology was introduced Friday at Fort Leonard Wood.

Engineers say the goal is to make sure soldiers are safe.

A presentation was held at the military base to introduce "Shrike," a flying robot that could increase route clearance and protection capability to inspect culverts and other areas for IEDs and other dangers.

"We want to make their jobs better, improve their performance on missions and get them home alive," said David Hendrickson, Director of Business Development of Aerovironment Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

Shrike is battery operated and has five cameras.

The U.S. Army already has something similar called Puma and Raven but Shrike has more advanced features. For example: it flies more like a helicopter than an airplane.

The military has been using Puma for years but, because it flies like an airplane there are some limitations.

"This gives us the capability to stop, hover, and stare and actually just like you are right there look horizontal right into a target and you can't do that with the aircraft we have today," said Dave Knichel, U.S. Army robotics Engineer for Maneuver Support Center of Excellence.

"I can command it to go from here to several kilometers away and watch an enemy safe house without their knowing it's there. Otherwise I would have to put soldiers in harm way to go out there and do that same thing," said Hendrickson.

The Army says Shrike isn't the only flying robot it's looking at. While officials don't know which model they'll go with, something like it will soon be on the battlefield.

"It is a capability that we do have to have. It will help us protect lives, be more effective on the battlefield, defeat our enemies faster and better," said Brigadier General Peter DeLuca with the U.S. Army Engineer Regiment.

Shrike and other models will be tested in AEWE "Advanced Experimentation Warfare Exercises" this fall. The robots will be tested by soldiers in a typical war application. The U.S. Army will then decide which type of capability they will pick up.

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