January 28, 2006 Meet the world’s first robotic combat soldier – also known as the Special Weapons Observation Remote Direct-Action System (SWORDS). The diminutive remote-controlled US$230,000 SWORDS machine shares the same base as the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Talon robots which have been deployed in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. Unlike many of it’s flying robotic (UAV) brethren, the weaponised Talon is not autonomous, being under the direct control of a soldier watching from up to a mile away through an array of cameras which can include both night and thermal vision. SWORDS is completely silent, can keep pace with a running soldier (5mph), climb stairs, right itself, negotiate rock piles, overcome concertina wire, and plow through sand, snow and surf. Most importantly, it can shoot with astounding accuracy and thanks to its universal weapon-mounting device, can carry and fire your choice of an M-16, M-2, M-240 or M-249 machine gun, or the M-202A1 with a 66mm rocket launcher. SWORDS will be deployed to Iraq and see combat for the first time in the next few weeks, beginning a new era of ground warfare.
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