Military Review

Inhuman soldiers go on reconnaissance and look for mines

Inhuman soldiers go on reconnaissance and look for mines

The use of uninhabited surface and underwater vehicles of various types, as well as other robotized complexes, in solving the widest range of tasks in the interests of the naval forces and the coast guard of the leading countries of the world has become widespread in recent years and has a tendency to further rapid development.

One of the reasons for the attention paid by naval specialists to the creation of underwater robots, lies in the high efficiency of their combat use in comparison with the traditional means available to the command of the naval forces of the countries of the world to date. For example, during the invasion of Iraq, the command of the US Navy grouping in the Persian Gulf zone, using autonomous uninhabited underwater vehicles, managed to clear a quarter-square mile (about 16 sq. km) of mines and other dangerous objects from mines and other dangerous objects within just 0,65 hours. , despite the fact that, as one representative of the US Navy noted to the correspondent of the Associated Press, a typical detachment of miner divers would take 21 days to do this.

At the same time, the list of tasks solved by uninhabited underwater vehicles is constantly expanding and, in addition to the traditional and most common - the search for mines and explosive objects, the provision of various underwater operations, as well as reconnaissance and observation - already includes solving shock tasks and working on more complex and previously inaccessible for "Robots in uniform" sections of the littoral zone, where they must destroy mines and other elements of the enemy antiamphibious defense. The specific conditions of their combat use are shallow water, strong tidal currents, waves, difficult bottom relief, etc. - result in the creation of mechanisms that are distinguished by high technical complexity and originality of the applied solutions. However, this originality often leaves them sideways: the customer is not yet ready for the massive introduction of such man-made monsters into the troops.


One of the first military-purpose robots designed to work in the “beach” zone in preparation for the amphibious assault operation can be considered a small crustacean autonomous underwater robot known as Ambulatory Benthic Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, which can be translated from English as “walking benthic” (bottom) autonomous underwater vehicle ".

This unit weighing just 3,2 kg was developed on its own initiative by specialists from the Marine Science Center at Northeastern University, located in Boston, Massachusetts (USA), under the guidance of Dr. Joseph Ayers. The customer was the United States Naval Research Department (ONR) and the Advanced Defense Development Agency of the US Department of Defense (DARPA).

The device is a bottom autonomous robot of the so-called biomimetic class (robots, similar to any animal world patterns. - V.Sh.), resembling cancer and intended for carrying out intelligence and anti-mine operations in the intertidal zone and on the first coastline, as well as at the bottom of rivers, canals and other shallow natural and artificial reservoirs.

The robot has a body made of durable composite material 200 mm long and 126 mm wide, eight mechanical legs with three degrees of freedom each, as well as a pair of front claw-like crab or crab, and one back, resembling something of a tail of cancer hydrodynamic stabilization of the robot under water approximately in length 200 mm each (that is, each surface is comparable in length to the body of the robot). Mechanical legs are driven by artificial muscles made of a nickel-titanium alloy with a shape memory effect (NiTi shape memory alloy), and the developers decided to use pulse-width modulation in the drives.

The actions of the robot are controlled using a neural network controller that implements a behavioral model borrowed by developers from the life of lobsters and adapted to the conditions of combat use of these robots. Moreover, experts from Northeastern University chose the American lobster as a source for developing the behavioral model of the robot in question.

“The ways and behaviors that lobsters have used for thousands of years to search for food can equally well be used by robots to search for mines,” says project leader Dr. Joseph Ayers of the Northeastern Marine Science Center.

The onboard robot cancer control system is built on the basis of a “Persistor” type computer system based on the Motorola microprocessor MC68CK338, and the device’s payload included a hydroacoustic communication system, a compass, and a krenomer / accelerometer built on MEMS-based (MEMS - microelectromechanical system).

A typical scenario of the combat use of this robot was as follows. A group of crayfish robots is delivered to the area of ​​application using a special transport torpedo carrier (it was supposed to create something like an underwater version of a small cargo container used in the Air Force). After scattering, the robots, according to a pre-programmed program, were supposed to conduct reconnaissance or supplementary exploration of the designated area, identify elements of the enemy antiamphibious defense system, especially with regard to mines and other explosive objects, etc. In the case of large-scale production, the purchase price of one cancer robot could be approximately $ 300.

However, on the construction of several prototypes and their short trials the case, apparently, did not go. The main potential customer - the Naval Forces, who initially allocated about 3 million dollars for these studies, did not express any further interest in the project: the latest development of the Northeastern University was demonstrated to the specialists of the US Navy command, apparently, in 2003 year. Probably, there were no customers among the participants of those exhibitions where this invention was demonstrated.


An attempt to create a robot based on the characteristics of the structure of "seafood", and specifically - the crab, was undertaken by the specialists of the American company "Ayrobot". The company is today one of the world's leading developers and manufacturers of various types of military and civilian robots, and the volume of their supplies has long been estimated at millions. Founded in 1990, the company since 1998, regularly participates in the interests of DARPA or other units of the military and security agencies of the United States and other countries of the world.

Developed by the company's specialists, the robot was named Ariel II (Ariel II) and classified as an autonomous walking underwater vehicle (Autonomous Legged Underwater Vehicle - ALUV). It is designed to search and remove mines and various obstacles in the enemy antiamphibious defense system located in the coastal shallow zone and on the "beach". A feature of the robot, according to the developers, is its ability to remain efficient and upside down.

Ariel II weighs about 11 kg and can take a payload of up to 6 kg. The length of the apparatus is 550 mm, the greatest length of the manipulators with a compass and inclinometer is 1150 mm, the width is 9 cm in the low position and 15 cm on the raised legs. The robot is capable of operating at depths up to 8 m. Power source - 22 nickel-cadmium batteries.

Structurally, "Ariel II" is a crab-shaped apparatus having a main body and six legs attached to it, possessing two degrees of freedom. According to the plan of the developers, all the target electronic equipment placed on board the “crab in uniform” was to be located in a hermetic module. Target load management system - distributed. Works on this mine action robot were carried out under contracts issued by the DARPA agency and the US Navy Research and Development Directorate.

The scenario of the combat use of these robots is in many ways similar to what was described above, with one difference: the robot had a mine destruction mode. Finding a mine, the robot stopped and took a position in the vicinity of the mine, waiting for the command. Upon receipt of the corresponding signal from the control panel, the robot undermined the mine. Thus, the "flock" of these robots could simultaneously almost completely or even completely destroy the antiamphibious minefield in the area of ​​the planned landing of the amphibious assault forces. The developer also proposed an option that does not envisage the role of a kamikaze: the robot simply placed a charge of explosives on the mine and, before the explosion, retreated to a safe distance.

One of the prototypes of the robot - miner "Ariel". Photos from

Ariel II demonstrated its ability to search for mines during at least three tests. The first was held in the coastal shallow water area in the Riviera Beach area, near the town of Riviera in Massachusetts; the second is in the Panama City, Florida, area with funds from Boeing Corporation, and the third is in the Monterey Bay area by order of National Geographic. Apparently, this project did not receive further development (including due to far from unambiguous results of the above tests), and the military customer, who financed the work at the first stage, allegedly considered a more promising other development of the same company, known as Transfibian "and discussed below. Although here, too, is not so simple.


Another uninhabited submersible for working in the intertidal zone, which is listed behind Ayrobot, was not originally developed by its specialists, but was inherited, so to speak, by Nekton Corporation, which it acquired in September 2008 for 10 million dollars

This unit was called Transfibian (Transphibian) and was created in the interests of the military for searching and destroying mines of various types using the self-exploding method using an on-board charge of explosive 6,35 kg and a signal remotely supplied by the operator.

“Transfibian” is a small-sized (portable) autonomous uninhabited underwater vehicle about 90 cm. Its main difference from other anti-mine underwater vehicles in the littoral zone is the use of a combined method of movement: in the water column, the device is moved using two pairs of fins, like a fish or a pinniped mammal, and along the bottom it is already crawling with the help of the same “fins”. At the same time, the materials on this development state that the “fins” have six degrees of freedom. According to the developers, it provides the possibility of equally effective use of the considered device both in shallow water and at great depth, and also significantly increases its mobility and ability to overcome obstacles of various nature.

As a payload, it was planned to use various search equipment up to a large-sized optical-electronic camera, which was to be hung on special mounts under the central part of the apparatus.

The development status is currently not entirely clear, since the section devoted to the uninhabited underwater vehicle "Transfibian" is not even on the website of the developer company. Although some sources claim that it was in favor of this unit that the US military department preferred, abandoning the previously considered development of the same company - the uninhabited Ariel II submersible. However, it is likely that the project was closed or frozen, since the American naval specialists were, to put it mildly, not satisfied with a number of important parameters of the considered underwater uninhabited apparatus.


The latest sample of uninhabited vehicles designed to search and destroy mines, as well as conduct reconnaissance of the enemy’s anti-amphibious defense in the so-called surf zone, which we consider here, was created by experts of the famous American company Foster-Miller, specializing in the development of military and police robots. This unit, known as the “Tactically Adaptable Robot”, was carried out as part of the “Very Shallow Water / Surf Zone MCM Program” program, funded by the Scientific and Research control of the US Navy.

This sample was an unmanned tracked amphibious vehicle, developed using the know-how acquired by Foster-Miller when the Lemming compact ground-based robot was built upon the request of the DARPA agency. Thus, this unit is able to work both on the seabed in shallow water near the shore (in a river, lake, etc.) and on the shore. In this case, the developer has provided the possibility of equipping the device with various battery options (rechargeable batteries), sensors and other payloads, which were located in the compartment with a useful volume of about 4500 cube. inches (about 0,07 cubic meters).

The constructed prototype of the device has the following tactical and technical characteristics: length - 711 mm, width - 610 mm, height - 279 mm, weight (in air) - 40,91 kg, maximum speed - 5,4 km / h, maximum range of travel - 10 miles. As a payload, it was planned to develop tactile sensors (touch sensors), a magnetic gradiometer, a magneto-inductive sensor for contactless detection of objects, etc.

The onboard equipment of the amphibian robot is supposed to include navigation tools (multi-touch system for determining the spatial position of the device using the Kalman filter; navigation system for work in shallow water SINS (Swimmer Inshore Navigation System); receiver of the global subsystem global navigation satellite system (DGPS); three-axis compass ; odometers; gyro sensor yawing apparatus for the course, etc.) and communication (ISM-band radio receiver and underwater acoustic modem), and the onboard control system is made on PC base standard PC / 104.

The results of the survey of the designated area of ​​the water area (seabed) by each of the amphibian robots allocated for this purpose - and the operation is planned using a group of similar devices - are transmitted to the operator console, where a digital map of this area is formed on their basis.

Specialists from Foster-Miller and the units of the coastal systems of the US Navy's Surface Warfare Center jointly conducted a test cycle of a prototype of the system in question, during which they were to demonstrate the ability of the amphibious robot to perform the following tasks:

- search for various objects in the designated area of ​​the water area;

- search and identification of objects on the seabed;

- full and thorough examination of the area of ​​the littoral zone (surf zone) at the site of the upcoming amphibious landing operation;

- maintaining two-way communication with the operator on the carrier ship or coastal gearbox;

- Solving the required tasks offline.

In July, 2003, this amphibious robot was shown to everyone in Boston as part of an exhibit organized by the US Naval Research Department during the Boston Harborfest festival, and earlier, in 2002, the US military used these devices in a version optimized for onshore use during an operation to survey caves in the mountains of Afghanistan.

The status of the system is indicated as “under development”, contracts for any serial production of amphibian robots have not yet been concluded (at least information about this has not been made public), so it is likely that the customer in the person of the US Navy command has not yet shown active interest to continue the work on the project. In addition, on the website of the US Navy in the section on the program "Mine action forces and equipment for very shallow water areas and the surf zone," there is no mention of this robotic complex.


In general, it can be stated that the task of searching for, detecting, classifying and destroying mines in the littoral zone and on the first coastline ("beach"), as well as detecting various elements of the enemy antiamphibious defense remains one of the most important components of the integrated process support amphibious operations. Especially those that are carried out in unfamiliar parts of the coast.

In this regard, we can expect further development of work on the subject of creating robotic tools designed to solve the above problems. Although, as can be seen from the above information, the task of creating uninhabited and even more autonomous vehicles capable of operating in extremely difficult conditions of the littoral zone (surf zone, on the first coastline), characterized by difficult bottom relief, shallow depths and strong currents, is not easy and does not always lead to the desired and satisfying customer results.

On the other hand, back in 2008, the pages of the online resource published material based on a forecast made by British and American experts regarding the most serious threats of a scientific and technical nature that humanity might face in the foreseeable future . And what is remarkable, according to the authors of the forecast, one of the threats with a high degree of probability may be the excessively rapid development of biomimetic robots - systems created on the basis of borrowing certain samples of the nature of the planet. Such as, for example, autonomous uninhabited underwater vehicles, created similar to certain samples of marine fauna both in a constructive sense and in relation to the behavioral models implemented in their control systems.

According to British scientists, rapidly biomimetic robots of this kind can become a new occupant species on our planet and come into confrontation for the possession of living space with their former creators. Fantasy? Yes, probably. But a couple of centuries ago, the submarine Nautilus, space rockets, and combat lasers seemed to be fantasy. A specialist in biomimetic robots, Robert Full, who works at the University of California at Berkeley, emphasizes: "In my opinion, at this stage, we know too little about the possible threats to plan our development accordingly."

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  1. PKK
    PKK April 30 2016 06: 31
    Without robots, it gets harder and harder. The robot does the job faster and does not get tired at the end of the crawl, it does not need a respite. The robot can get lost, for this the commander will have to pay out of his salary. But he’s unlikely to lose his mind. But even this when the batteries run down, the drone will calm down. Robots are needed.
    1. Shurik70
      Shurik70 April 30 2016 14: 52
      So after all, kamikaze robots with mines or torpedoes do not last long.
      The war of robots has begun!
      1. The comment was deleted.
      2. i80186
        i80186 April 30 2016 16: 18
        Quote: Shurik70
        So after all, kamikaze robots with mines or torpedoes do not last long.
        The war of robots has begun!

        Yeah, exactly. This is from the famous "information leak" laughing
  2. bad
    bad April 30 2016 06: 41
    theirs "cancer" will creep out to look for our mines, and they (our mines) will creep up to their cancer, surround them, hang them with a lure, and outrage .. laughing
  3. Kudrevkn
    Kudrevkn April 30 2016 09: 10
    It would be better if they created battle flies and mosquitoes in the fight against terrorism - they would train them on explosives and other terrorist gadgets, like shouts of "Allah Ak bar!" That would be cool to see how such "Abdullah" shouts, and the "atomic" mosquito will sit on him and bang, in pieces! As in the play by E. Schwartz about King Cain 18 ?!
  4. ivanovbg
    ivanovbg April 30 2016 09: 11
    Biomimetic class robots ... Neurocontroller network ... The future has already come. And the technology of murder and destruction is again an order of magnitude higher than the technology of treatment and preservation of human life.
    1. voyaka uh
      voyaka uh 1 May 2016 10: 54
      ". And the technologies of murder and destruction are again an order of magnitude higher,
      than technologies of treatment and preservation of human life "////

      There are more medical robots than military robots. And they are technologically
      more perfect. Because they are much more profitable.
      Heart surgery robots are loaded 24 hours a day, as
      on the conveyor belt of Ford. Each operation brings profit to the hospital
      a hundred thousand dollars (from patients or their insurance companies).
  5. Pvi1206
    Pvi1206 April 30 2016 11: 03
    Most of all, man has succeeded in developing means to destroy his own kind.
    Is this really the purpose of man and his meaning of life? ...
    1. Fast_mutant
      Fast_mutant April 30 2016 22: 59
      Yes. The whole history of mankind speaks of this.
    APASUS April 30 2016 15: 28
    It makes no sense to examine a puddle with such a robot, if these are real bottom areas, then at the moment dolphins are more productive and accurate. Also in the land version, marsupial rats are much more successful in finding mines
  7. avg-mgn
    avg-mgn April 30 2016 19: 41
    Quote: APASUS
    It makes no sense to examine a puddle with such a robot, if these are real bottom areas, then at the moment dolphins are more productive and accurate. Also in the land version, marsupial rats are much more successful in finding mines

    That's right, especially value for money, where price comes first. But you should not give up work in this direction, although I am always annoyed by the attempt to put the robot on its "feet", the complication of the kinematic scheme, as a result of the rise in price, and does not add reliability. If you do not experiment today, do not study the experience of competitors, you can hopelessly lag behind. But there is no need to impose crude, ineffective samples for the army. Hopefully the latest mass of articles on the walking robots being adopted is wishful thinking by the media.
    1. APASUS
      APASUS 1 May 2016 11: 37
      Well, you won’t get it all in one hand, biolocation studies are costly and not small. This is a whole range of studies, training, medicine, etc.
      So it is with rats, I think rats have a bunch of reasons for pouting a person.
      In no case do I propose to abandon production and research in robotics, in such a strategic part as the world’s oceans, but I think it’s much more expensive, starting from sensors, material engines and ending with software, it’s simply a breakthrough of problems and there are no secondary ones.
      I completely agree with the attempt to equip the robot with kinematic diagrams, everything has already been invented, we just need to see it. For example, UFOs feel great in air and marine environment. after all, the slope under water just soars and the energy expenditure per unit is less than that of a crawling crab.
  8. driver
    driver 1 May 2016 03: 46
    Here it is - an amazing number .....
  9. Signore Tomato
    Signore Tomato 1 May 2016 09: 48
    I really hope that our military does not leave the facts of the appearance and development of such systems - because the phrase "... The status of development is currently not entirely clear, since the section dedicated to the unmanned underwater vehicle" Transfibian "is not even on the website of the developer company ...."
    may mean that work on this topic is deeply classified!

    Our military must also develop in this direction!
  10. nesvobodnye
    nesvobodnye 2 May 2016 23: 47
    An excellent article of constipation ending with the mention of British scientists. Oh!