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back to article Canada develops motorised parachute delivery bot

Here at the DSEi killware show there's a constant parade of robots: crawling, flying, swimming or just sitting still and killing people who walk past. It's relatively difficult for a jaded deathmech hack to muster up much interest... sometimes. Robot motorchute leaflet dropping. It was inevitable, really. Now and again, though …

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Good Lord, the possibilities...

Whilst the SnowGoose is a truly nifty invention, I don't *ever* want them getting loose in the commercial environment... I can just see those things now, buzzing about the local uni campus, spamming pizza coupons and flyers to the latest rave/concert/sports event/drunken orgy/what-have-you.

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Anonymous Coward

"Can it carry people"

Considering the "Military Channel" had a bit about US Special Forces strapped to open ammo doors and/or landing skids on Apache attack helos, I'm sure it's been tried.

Yes, we have our own channel devoted to blowing sh*t up over here. One program is basically the same as this series of articles. This guy gets to see the latest stuff coming out of the US weapons labs, like an armor-piercing shotgun, or a self-loading self-aiming mortar.

Another one is about renovating WW-II tanks that have been used as targets. Yet another one is renovating/upgrading Abrams tanks from Iraq so they can be shipped back, or putting armor on HMMMVs, or how the high-speed helicopter gatling gun was designed. That sort of thing.

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Anonymous Coward

For life-saving and disaster relief?

All that clever technology (go Canucks!) -- wouldn't it be nice if organisations used these to send supplies to place such as Darfur, where aid convoys tend to get robbed/extorted/stopped by warlords, and to hard-to-reach places such as earthquake zones or flood zones, where you can't easily get to people by airplane or road, and where simply dropping supplies from a plane means the damage to or loss of those supplies.

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Rob

yes, but what's all the batteries for?

I think the goose is pretty cool, but the main point of the article surely is that spec ops forces are willing to give away their position for something that is more essential to them than food or water:

"Maybe some food and water, too, but mainly batteries. God knows what those guys have out there, but it's power hungry."

And the main one of course is ammo, but that is not even mentioned, which suggests that they are using energy weapons of some sort, or maybe invisibility cloaks.

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Anonymous Coward

Re yes, but what's all the batteries for?

Computers? You don't expect them to manage without email, Facebook, etc, do you?

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Dom

What the batteries are for.

Energy weapons? Invisibility cloaks? No, on planet Earth you'll find special ops forces using GPS, night-vision goggles, satcoms etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Battery supply

Absolutely obvious- they need the batteries to run their stealth golf carts

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/09/07/us_special_forces_electric_buggy_stealth/

EAfH

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Re: What the batteries are for,

Or sex toys???

the only thing i cant understand though, is that they say it has been used for the us special service deep behind the front lines correct?

how is it that the enermy are able to shoot down hlicoptors with fully trained pilots and weapon operators, yet not able to shoot down a 6ft brick with a parachute attached to it?

its good and all but unless its gonna be made of stealth material and be able to dodge RPG's its not gonna last long really.

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Anonymous Coward

Take a joke Dom......

you'd think they'ed have found a way to make them windup like the radios by now LOL....

Yes Dom, thats another joke!

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Vulnerability (or lack thereof)

"how is it that the enermy are able to shoot down hlicoptors with fully trained pilots and weapon operators, yet not able to shoot down a 6ft brick with a parachute attached to it?"

Probably because the 6 foot brick with a parachute is actually quite a bit quieter, has a smaller thermal signature, and if properly colored, will be rather hard to see unless you're looking straight at it. Sure, it will be vulnerable when it comes in real close to the ground, but the rest of the time it should be in pretty good shape. And even if you do lose a few, who cares - it's a lot cheaper than losing even one Apache, and, hey look, no one dies.

All that having been said, I'd like to echo Anon - let's get this in the field for disaster relief. As beneficial as this will be for the troops, it will be just as useful if not more so for thousands of disaster victims. I don't mind saying - this is a really exciting bot, at least to me.

-daniel

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E

@ yes, but what's all the batteries for?

No, I am sure an energy weapon needs a lot more energy than a couple hundred pounds of batteries will supply.

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Sherpa

$20k per Sherpa, or $1million for a pair of snowgeese.

I will take 50 Sherpas for that price please

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Anonymous Coward

And radio control is only optional

The article doesn't mention it, but you could set this robot to fly in and out without human operators, so it's automatic and the signal can't be jammed. Looking at its website it's in use since 2004, so this is actually a 3 year old design.

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RE: For life-saving and disaster relief?

It can only carry 600 Lbs of stuff (6 bins at 100 lbs each). Hardly sufficient for disaster relief

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@Jason

Sure, if the loss-rate were high, your math works. Mind you, the SnowGeese only have to complete 25 flights each, and they break even. After that, every flight reduces the cost. Plus, the million buys the support gear, too - Additional units are surely less then 500K each, and can be supported by that same gear. Then, there's the fact that the SnowGeese can do things the Sherpa could never do, such as service multiple locations on one run, and go places the Sherpa can never go, such as many, many miles *past* the drop point, or being launched from the ground when there are no aircraft about. How far you think the forward logistics camp is going to huck a Sherpa-equipped crate without air support? If they have a big enough trebuchet, they might be able to deliver to the base's outer sentries. Aircraft time is pretty heavily allocated. With this system, a couple clerks can load up a drone, drive down the main drag of the base in a borrowed truck to launch, then go get lunch, securely confident that their delivery is on its way. Likewise, I'd like to see a Sherpa try to do that nifty leaflet drop...

The Sherpa has its place, but don't be fooled into thinking that the SnowGoose is an expensive boondoggle. It's actually very inexpensive for what it does.

Oh, and about vulnerability - a helicopter has a body of up to 10X the volume of the SnowGoose, and is far, far louder. To shoot a SnowGoose down, you'd need to 1) notice it, and 2) hit a much smaller target. Not so easy as it sounds. Even if you *do* hit it, well... Its parachute is already deployed!

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Anonymous Coward

@Keith Williams

600 lbs of fresh water dropped every 2-3 hours by even just a handful (4-6) of these machines could have saved lives, or at the very least improved the extremely poor conditions that existed in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. That was in the US, imagine the relief it could bring to a region like Darfur as mentioned.

I am surprised that they have not been provided for that purpose yet. Maybe my MP needs to hear about this. Unfortunately, we Canadians can be very creative, very generous, but I had never heard of this SnowGoose before reading this article.

Of course, strap a hockey stick on it and it would be on the front page of every newspaper in the country ;-)

--Pete

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Anonymous Coward

@ Rob

>And the main one of course is ammo, but that is not even mentioned, which suggests that they are using energy weapons of some sort, or maybe invisibility cloaks.

They very well may be using invisibility cloaks; check out this video (shot by an "insurgent" & broadcast on what looks like al-Jazeera) of a Spec Ops-type bloke pulling a Predator (about 4/5 the way through the clip) after his tank gets hit by an IED.

http://www.liveleak.com/player.swf?token=06f_1176746429

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