The Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot (BEAR) developed by Vecna Technologies in collaboration with the U.S. Army’s Telemedicine & Advanced Technology Research Centre (TATRC) is no teddy bear.
The Economist (10 March 2011) says this it is “a highly agile and powerful mobile robot capable of lifting and carrying a combat casualty from a hazardous area across uneven terrain.” And when BEAR is not saving wounded soldiers on the battlefield, it can perform “difficult and repetitive tasks, such as loading and unloading ammunition.”
The BEAR is a tracked vehicle that can travel up to 12 mph and has 2 hydraulic arms for lifting and carrying. It is controlled with a set of wireless video cameras and joystick control either embedded on the grip of a rifle or with a special glove that can sense the wearer’s movements.
This is great concept and I imagine this will be enhanced over time especially with the advances in telemedicine, so that at some point we will see the BEAR or its progeny actually performing battlefield medicine.
One thing, however, in my opinion, the bear face on this robot undermines the seriousness of mission that it performs and it should be changed to look like a medic, it’s primary function.