After 15 months of development, privately-owned Swiss company Novatiq is set to enter the robotics market with its first offering, SCORP. Designed for scouting and surveillance applications, SCORP is a Micro Unmanned Ground Vehicle (MUGV) that joins the growing ranks of throwable robots. As such, it is small, rugged and lightweight enough to be carried in a backpack and thrown into buildings or over rough terrain.
SCORP measures 34 cm (13 in) long, 27 cm (10 in) wide and 12 cm (4.7 in) high, and weighs in at just under 3.5 kg (7.7 lb). It boasts four separate cameras - one on each side - with the front a day/night camera able to tilt +/- 90 degrees, and with IR illuminators for night vision.
With the ability to carry payloads of up to 3 kg (6 lb), SCORP can also be fitted with a variety of sensors, radios, additional cameras and a robotic arm. It can also be fitted with an external battery pack to supplement the standard battery and increase the operation of the unit from two to six hours.
The robot has a top speed of 8 km/h (5 mph), and can be controlled by a wearable controller at distances of up to 500 m (1,650 ft). If communications between the controller and the robot are disrupted, SCORP will automatically retrace its path until communications are restored.
The handheld panel control seen in the main picture measures 360 mm (14.1 in) high, 200 mm (7.8 in) wide and 50-70 mm (1.9-2.7 in) thick, and weighs 1.9 kg (4.2 lb). It incorporates a 6.5-inch touchscreen, dual joysticks for robot and accessories control and has a battery life of four to five hours.
With a starting price of CHF 10,500 (approx. US$10,750) for SCORP, Novatiq is aiming to gain a foothold in the military, law enforcement and first responder markets with a unit that compares favorably in terms of cost to similar throwable MUGV's, such as the iRobot 110, QinetiQ Dragon Runner and Armadillo V2. However, Novatiq also claims SCORP "differs thanks to its ease of use and its 'field technology'."
Novatiq will launch SCORP in March 2012 and plans to release additional accessories through out the year. These include a biochemical detector, manipulator with pincer, indoor autonomous reconnaissance (SLAM), outdoor navigation (obstacle avoidance system) , firing explosive charges, thermal imaging (Tau, Flir), long range transmission, fiber optic communication, PTZ camera, image stabilization, wire cutter, rugged tablet pc (Fieldbook), wrist controller and laptop command monitoring station, just to name a few. The company says it also plans to launch other unmanned systems by the end of the year.