The Protector robot can carry 1,250 pounds of gear, climb steep slopes, and is less than three feet wide.
Specifically designed for infantry, the Protector robot is a tracked vehicle, less than three feet wide, with a 32 horsepower turbo diesel/JP8 engine, and an ability to climb a 45° slope — this robot can go where infantry needs to go. The Protector can also carry 750 pounds of gear on the robot itself, and pull a trailer with another 500 pounds of gear.
The base system is simple, strong, and cheap. It is also very expandable. We built it to be the robotic equivalent of a jeep or HMMWV: a robust platform that can easily be adapted for a wide variety of missions. There are a simple set of open protocols that allow anyone to connect a kit for autonomous operations. The robot also has a hydraulic power take-off for attachments and 2 kW of electrical power available to users.
Many different attachments have been successfully demonstrated on the Protector, including: mini-flail, mine roller/rake, pre-detonation electrical discharge system, semi-autonomous navigation kit, satellite communications for world-wide remote control, backhoe/loader, stretcher mount points for two wounded, tethered UAV for persistent surveillance, and M-153 CROWS remote weapons station. We also support the commercial-standard ROS interface. We are working with commercial partners on applications such as autonomous crop-spraying attachments for use in vineyards, orchards, and other areas where the Protector’s small size, excellent mobility, high payload capacity, and precision autonomous navigation kit offer significant advantages.
The operator is tele-operating the Protector using our wireless hand-controller in his right hand. The radio repeater on the front of his vest gives the controller a 1 km range.
The base Protector system is tele-operated through a simple, lightweight hand-controller that is extremely popular with users. Similar to a single-handed video game “nunchuk”, our rugged controller weighs eight ounces and has a thumbstick and two buttons. The hand-controller uses a wireless link to a four pound radio repeater that the operator can carry in any convenient location. The radio repeater has a 1 km line-of-sight range to the robot. The controller even has a ’cruise-control” mode the operator can use, where the robot will maintain speed and direction by itself. The operator can make adjustments by tapping the thumbstick, or take over full manual control at any time.
The Protector robot is lightweight and modular. It can be disassembled in the field in a few minutes into four modules. Each module is a four-man carry. This modularity means an infantry squad can quickly break the vehicle down and portage it across any obstacle that it cannot cross by itself. The modularity also greatly simplifies maintenance in the field.
With its 15 gallon internal fuel tank, the Protector can go over 60 miles. The robot can run on either diesel or JP8. The engine’s turbocharger means that the robot has enough power to run its flail attachment, while carrying 1,000 pounds of gear, uphill, at 10,000 feet.