Government introduces surveillance robots

New robots taking over patrols of security site in Nevada


LAS VEGAS -- R2D2, move over. The federal government introduced its own robot this week that will patrol the boundaries of the Nevada National Security Site, formerly the Nevada Test Site.

Already, one of the robots, called the mobile detection assessment response system is roaming the Nye County desert in search of intruders. The government expects to add three more soon.

"We had a herd of antelope come out here a week ago, during a weekend shift, and it saw them, saw them as a human type and then ran up there and challenged them," said Stephen Scott, senior technical security engineer for the Nevada National Security Site. It spotted the antelope by using 16 lasers spinning on a rotating head.

The robot is equipped with an ICX1200 radar, high-powered spotlight, an infrared camera for thermal imaging and a microphone so that its operators can communicate with intruders.

The robot, though, has one prime directive: No harming humans.

"It will stop and interrogate rather than just run up onto you," Scott said.

Although not yet equipped with weapons, the military has the option to install machine guns.

The military estimates that the robot patrols will save the Nevada National Security Site $1 million in labor and equipment maintenance costs.

The U.S. Army contracted General Dynamics Robotic Systems in Virginia to develop the robots.

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