The Segway has been the geek-chic ride ever since its launch. Effortless mobility and the ability to experience the great outdoors (and large indoors for that matter) while retaining a sense of lethargy have no doubt added to its appeal. Every CES I have attended has afforded me the opportunity drudge along with the throngs of other attendees attempting to make my next meeting or exhibit only to be nearly run over by some elitist on his/her Segway. While I curse the Segway pilot at the time, I later admit my enviousness as I finish mile 8 of my daily CES-trek.
As cool as the standard Segway may appear, Segway has kicked up their geek quotient a notch, a la the Segway Robotic Mobility Platform . By deleting the most uncool aspect of the Segway, i.e. the rider, the Robotic Mobility Platform or RMP for short opens the book on numerous possible applications. The military has been experimenting with Segway’s for Explosive Ordinance Disposal teams for some time now as a means of EOD specialist transport (after all that bomb-suit weighs 80lbs) as well as utilizing the RMP variants as mules for hauling gear.
Two of the more interesting variants of the RMP line are the RMP 400 and the RMP 400 Omni . The RMP 400 features 4 wheel drive, a top speed of 18mph and a range of 15miles as well as a payload capacity of 400lbs, more than enough to pull an injured soldier to safety. The RMP 400 Omni drops the top speed to 7mph and range to 6 miles but makes up for the gap with its futuristic and dare I say ingenious Mecanum wheel system which allows it to move not only forwards and backwards but also strafe left to right. The sheer imagery of this thing skittering across a battlefield should be enough to strike fear in the hearts of any hostile….or at least confuse the crap out of them.
In April, the role of the four-wheeled unmanned RMP 400 was taken a step further by the Army Corps of Engineers Huntsville Center when they developed a mobile robot system“…capable of autonomously mapping a given field for the purpose of finding unexploded ordnance (UXO). A combination of GPS and INS are used for navigation, while the trailer carries two Geonics EM61-Mk2 metal detectors.”
As if that isn’t cool enough, PERL Research has developed the Dynamic Injury Severity Estimation robot built upon the RMP 400 plaftorm. The unit boasts AI capabilities and is reported to be able to remotely assess wounded soldiers/civilians and can determine if the individual is alive, has sustained any life threatening injuries, has any broken bones and can take vital signs. A few of these in the local ER would definitely cut down on wait times.
If you think you can do better you’re in luck, the Segway RMP platform is also setup for the Player Project , an open source robot control interface software system, allowing you to test your programming skills while ostensibly benefiting society at the same time.
Kind of makes the regular Segway look a little lame, huh?