Friday, June 23, 2006


Unmanned planes patrol the skies over German cities, and tank-track robots patrol the streets as the World Cup unfolds. But there has been little need for the robot force so far. No terror attacks, no serious terror threats and barely any booze-battered brawling.

But then, half the point of unrolling this kind of robotech at the World Cup was to live-field test it. There's also the added benefit of getting people from all over the world used to the curious sight of surveillance robots tracking through the streets, and eye-in-the-sky roboplanes buzzing through the air.

That way, they won't be so suprised when they see similar robots in the streets of their home cities. They'll just think, 'Oh, I saw one of those at the World Cup....but I don't remember those ones being fitted with machine guns.'

From the AP :

"This is the first time robots like this have ever been used at a major sporting event," Robowatch spokesman Benjamin Stengl said. "They haven't caught anybody. They haven't actually had much to do. This has been a very safe World Cup, luckily."

The outdoor robot OFRO, which starts at $76,000 and resembles a Mars rover on treads, uses thermal cameras at night to spot intruders from their body heat. Similar to ones used by the U.S. military as scouts in Iraq, the OFRO is capable of far more - with sensors equipped to detect radiation, toxins, viruses and chemical warfare agents.

"These things won't be used here, but we see this as a learning experience, where we can go back and better the technology," Stengl said. "The robots here will be mostly used where it's very boring or very difficult to see."

The robots get navigation help from the Global Positioning System satellites and send pictures back to a central room in the stadium called the skybox. Through remote control, they can be sent to check out anything suspicious.

Go Here For An Earlier Story On Robots At War

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