Australian Robotics Firm Proves the Segway isn't Totally Worthless

Sydney-based Marathon Robotics has actually found a way to make the Segway personal transporter useful—target practice.

As featured in this month's issue of Popular Mechanics, Marathon has created a small army of mannequins on Segway platforms, equipped them with a host of technologies, and set them loose across a sniper training environment.

Calling it a "free-ranging robotic target system", it actually sounds like a whole lot of fun.

The robots roam the training grounds (a large strip-mall style city-scape) and communicate with each other and a central control station by way of a high-speed wireless Ethernet. They can carry out pre-planned scenarios, hide in buildings, do whatever they want, thanks to GPS and a scanning laser rangefinder.

Marathon Rover

BUT … when one of the robots takes a bullet (their upper bodies are made of highly durable plastic, and the Segway has been reinforced with 5mm ARMOX 600 steel), the other robots react like anyone would: they scatter.

Furthermore, the Segway's balancing platform allows them to perform quick bursts in varying directions, making them as unpredictable a target as a human being.

You have to visit Marathon Robotics' website to watch the video, but it's worth it: the Rover Army is creepy to watch. Dressed in those hoodies, they roam the lot with a menacing realism.

The images are from screen shots taken off a downloadable PDF at www.marathonrobotics.com.

Rover2.jpg

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