From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]
BATTLEFIELD EXTRACTION-ASSIST ROBOT (BEAR)
Battlefield ‘Bear’ robot to rescue fallen soldiers
BY Dawn Stover / 06 June 2007
“I WILL never leave a fallen comrade.” So states the US Soldier’s
Creed, and true to that vow, 22-year-old Sergeant Justin Wisniewski
died in Iraq last month while searching for soldiers abducted during
an ambush on 12 May.
A remote-controlled robot that will rescue injured or abducted
soldiers, without putting the lives of their comrades at risk, is
being developed for the US army. The 1.8-metre-tall Battlefield
Extraction-Assist Robot (Bear) will be able to travel over bumpy
terrain and squeeze through doorways while carrying an injured soldier
in its arms.
The prototype Bear torso can lift more than 135 kilograms with one
arm, and its developer, Vecna Technologies of College Park, Maryland,
is now focusing on improving its two-legged lower body. The robot
recently showed how it can climb up and down stairs with a human-size
dummy in its arms.
“We saw a need for a robot that can essentially go where a human can,”
says Daniel Theobald, Vecna’s president. But Bear can also do things
no human can, such as carrying heavy loads over considerable distances
without tiring. The robot can also carry an injured soldier while
kneeling or lying down, enabling it to move through tall grass or
behind a wall without being spotted.
“Bear can carry a soldier while kneeling or lying down to avoid
The robot’s hydraulic arms are designed to pick up loads in a single
smooth movement, to avoid causing pain to wounded soldiers. While the
existing prototype slides its arms under its burden like a forklift,
future versions will be fitted with manoeuvrable hands to gently scoop
Tracks on both the thighs and shins allow the robot to climb easily
over rough terrain or up and down stairs while crouching or kneeling.
It also has wheels at its hips, knees and feet, so it can switch to
two wheels to travel efficiently over smooth surfaces while adopting a
variety of positions. To keep it steady no matter what position it
adopts, Bear is fitted with accelerometers to monitor the movement of
its torso, and gyroscopes to detect any rotation of its body that
might indicate it is about to lose its balance. Computer-controlled
motors adjust the position of its lower body accordingly to prevent it
The robot’s humanoid body and teddy bear-style head give it a friendly
appearance. “A really important thing when you’re dealing with
casualties is trying to maintain that human touch,” says Gary Gilbert
of the US army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center
in Frederick, Maryland, which provided the initial funding for Bear’s
development. Congress has since added a further $1.1 million.
Although rescuing injured soldiers will be its most important role,
Bear’s work will also include mundane tasks such as loading trucks and
carrying equipment for soldiers. “The robot will be an integral part
of a military team,” says Theobald.
Bear is expected to be ready for field testing in less than five
From issue 2607 of New Scientist magazine, 06 June 2007, page 32
email : info-1 [at] vecna [dot] com
phone : (240) 737-1648 / (301) 699-3181
Vecna has offices in Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia and Utah.
College Park Office
5004 Lehigh Rd
College Park, MD 20740-3821
Cambridge Research Laboratory
36 Cambridgepark Drive
Cambridge, MA 02140
Skyline (VA) Office
5205 Leesburg Pike
Suite 210, Floor 2
Falls Church, VA 22041-3858
Bear robot rescues wounded troops
The US military is developing a robot with a teddy bear-style head to
help carry injured soldiers away from the battlefield.
The Battlefield Extraction Assist Robot (BEAR) can scoop up even the
heaviest of casualties and transport them over long distances over
New Scientist magazine reports that the “friendly appearance” of the
robot is designed to put the wounded at ease.
It is expected to be ready for testing within five years.
While it is important to get medical attention for injured soldiers as
soon as possible, it is often difficult and dangerous for their
comrades to reach them and carry them back.
The 6ft tall Bear can cross bumpy ground without toppling thanks to a
combination of gyroscopes and computer controlled motors to maintain
1. Teddy bear face designed to be reassuring
2. Hydraulic upper body carries up to 227kgs (500lbs)
3. When kneeling tracked “legs” travel over rubble. Switches to wheels
on smooth surfaces
4. Dynamic Balance Behaviour (DBB) technology allows the robot to
stand and carry loads upright on its ankles, knees or hips for nearly
It is also narrow enough to squeeze through doorways, but can lift
135kg with its hydraulic arms in a single smooth movement, to avoid
causing pain to wounded soldiers.
While the existing prototype slides its arms under its burden like a
forklift, future versions will be fitted with manoeuvrable hands to
gently scoop up casualties.
The Bear is controlled remotely and has cameras and microphones
through which an operator sees and hears.
It can even tackle stairs while carrying a human-sized dummy.
Daniel Theobald, the president of Vecna Technologies, which is
developing the robot for the US Army, said: “We saw a need for a robot
that can essentially go where a human can. The robot will be an
integral part of a military team.”
Gary Gilbert, from the US Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology
Research Centre in Frederick, Maryland, said that the teddy bear
appearance was deliberate.
“A really important thing when you’re dealing with casualties is
trying to maintain that human touch.”
Vecna is working on other potential applications for the robot
technology – including helping move heavy patients in hospital.