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GroundBot: The Roomba Of Mobile Spy Tech

GroundBot is designed to spy on baddies in mud, sand, snow, and even water.

GroundBot: The Roomba Of Mobile Spy Tech
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Surveillance equipment is supposed to cut costs, but if it stalls in rough terrain or breaks, it can actually add to them. That’s a design problem.

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In Sweden, a mobile surveillance robot originally designed to explore other planets is being tested by national defense forces. GroundBot, marketed by the Swedish company Rotundus, incorporates wide-angle cameras and assorted sensors into a tough little sphere–a sort of all-seeing eye–that can spy on baddies autonomously in any conditions. A sealed shell guards against dirt and blasts and a rubber skin both offers traction and diminishes vibrations, laying out the red carpet for the bot to glide through mud, sand, and snow without getting stuck. It can even float. Think of it as a Roomba for the Big Brother age.

Okay, a big Roomba. At about 2 feet tall, the bot’s a little larger than a tire. And it weighs nearly 55 pounds: not thin. That’s still a lot smaller than conventional surveillance robots, which can weigh more than 400 pounds.

GroundBot travels up to 6 miles per hour and can last 8 to 16 hours before needing a recharge. The company also boasts that the bot is virtually silent, so it can self-propel around airports, power plants, border crossings, and wherever else, “without drawing attention to itself.” Well. Except for that whole part about it being a giant rolling black ball.

[Hat tip to Bldgblog and PopSci]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D

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