swords ….

SWORDS or the Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System, is a weaponized version being developed by Foster-Miller for the US Army. The robot is composed of a weapons system mounted on the standard TALON chassis. The current price of one unit is $230,000; however, Foster-Miller claims that when it enters mass production the price may drop to between $150,000 and $180,000. Foster-Miller points out that in comparison, to train a US soldier to a basic level of expertise with BCT and/or AIT would cost $50,000 to $100,000. To train them for positions in Armor or Cavalry would cost approximately $100,000 to $200,000.

There are a variety of different weapons that can be placed on the SWORDS; M16 rifle, 5.56 mm SAW M249, 7.62 mm M240 machine gun, .50 cal M82 Barrett rifle, a six barreled 40 mm grenade launcher or quad 66 mmM202A1 FLASH incendiary weapon.

SWORDS units have demonstrated the ability to shoot precisely. It is not autonomous, but instead has to be controlled by a soldier using a small console to remotely direct the device and fire its weapons. Foster-Miller are currently at work on a “Game Boy” style controller with virtual-reality goggles for future operators.

In 2007, three SWORDS units were deployed to Iraq. Each unit is armed with a M249 machine gun. This deployment marks the first time that robots are carrying guns into battle;however, their weapons have remained unused as the Army has never given the go-ahead for using them.The Army stopped funding the SWORDS robots after deploying the initial three robots. Foster-Miller is working on a successor: the Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS)

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