The US military is developing a robot with a teddy bear-style head to help carry injured soldiers away from the battlefield. The Battlefield Extraction Assist Robot (BEAR) can scoop up even the heaviest of casualties and transport them over long distances over rough terrain. New Scientist magazine reports that the "friendly appearance" of the robot is designed to put the wounded at ease. It is expected to be ready for testing within five years.
While it is important to get medical attention for injured soldiers as soon as possible, it is often difficult and dangerous for their comrades to reach them and carry them back. The 6ft tall Bear can cross bumpy ground without toppling thanks to a combination of gyroscopes and computer controlled motors to maintain balance. It is also narrow enough to squeeze through doorways, but can lift 135kg with its hydraulic arms in a single smooth movement, to avoid causing pain to wounded soldiers. While the existing prototype slides its arms under its burden like a forklift, future versions will be fitted with manoeuvrable hands to gently scoop up casualties. The Bear is controlled remotely and has cameras and microphones through which an operator sees and hears.