Remote-controlled unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) have proven exceptionally useful in military applications, but according to Swedish company Rotundus, they can be equally well applied to civil security. Rolling through mud, sand, snow, or even floating in the water, the Rotundus GroundBot spherically-shaped robot is equipped with a pair of cameras, providing its remote operator with a live video feed in 3D.
Controlled remotely or via a programmed autonomous GPS-based system, Groundbot can be equipped with wide-angled cameras (for 360-degree vision), night vision (IR) cameras, microphone and loudspeakers, as well as sensors for radioactivity, gas, humidity, fire, heat, smoke, biological material, explosives, or narcotics. GroundBot has all its sensors and cameras well-protected inside the hermetically sealed sphere, which means no sand, mud, water, or even gas can get inside. This makes it well-suited for uses such as investigating suspected gas leaks. It also withstands overturns, drops and knocks.
Able to move and turn in multiple directions with smooth acceleration and deceleration, GroundBot is driven via a patented pendulum-based mechanism. In order to start rolling, a built-in motor raises the pendulum located inside the sphere, thus changing the center of gravity. This causes Groundbot to roll in the desired direction.
With a top speed of 10 km/h (6 mph), GroundBot is reportedly virtually inaudible and comes with knobby tire treads for all-terrain operation, or without them for use on paved surfaces. It operates for 8-16 hours depending on mission profile, while it takes 3-4 hours to recharge its battery. Featuring a polycarbonate housing with high friction coating, Groundbot's size is comparable to an automobile tire, measuring 60 cm (23.6 in) in diameter, while weighing in at 25 kg (55 lbs).
According to Rotundus, Groundbot is suitable for security at places such as airports, train stations, power plants, borders and warehouses, and for applications such as perimeter protection and stadium/event surveillance. American Unmanned Systems has acquired an exclusive license for production, marketing and sales of the unit in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
The following video presents Groundbot operating at an airport.