The Marine Corps is evaluating a new target that will provide a different challenge to marksmen. The Rover, a mobile robotic target system developed by Marathon Robotics, was designed to follow a pre-programmed set of commands to create scenarios for sniper training. Inputting the commands eliminates the need to individually control each robot, reducing the number of operators required to conduct a scenario.
The robots maneuver on a Segway platform, which allows them to move around flat surfaces easily. The platform is armored, and the mannequin is made from a durable plastic, which increases the number of rounds the system can take before it needs to be replaced.
When the robot is hit, the mannequin drops to give a visual representation that the target was hit. At the same time, the robot sends a signal to other Rovers nearby, causing them to change their routine and scatter for cover.
Marine Corps Systems Command is performing exploratory testing on the Rovers, scheduled to finish late summer 2011.