Visitors to Nevada often proclaim how beautiful the vast horizons are as they stretch in every direction as far as the eye can see. But just beyond, in the lesser traveled nuclear storage sites too toxic for humans to stay for very long without dying. And the truly horrific science fiction reality is, someone needs to guard the wastes. Robots have been employed to guard the sites from intruders.
The idea of a nuclear stockpile stretching for miles in every direction may seem incredible in itself, but robotic sentries employed to report or even eliminate intruders to the sight has some throwing their hands up waiting for Skynet to take over. But this isn’t an idea for a post apocalyptic film. This is modern technology at work. The reality has finally come to pass where sentry robots have been almost exclusively entrusted with up close and personal guarding of some of our most sensitive and dangerous locations. And with robotics technology only getting more advanced, what can we expect next?
The progress of robotics has been and is now charted by the mobility of the units involved. Fifty years ago when robots were not much more than a radio controlled units with few applications they trodded through research labs and on film very slowly. It wasn’t until the 1980s when more advanced units started being developed that the applications of these devices started to become more than just a dream. But now with the robotics industry creating robots capable of walking or even running across rough terrain, scanning memorized geographic features, following targets, and targeting them with frightening accuracy, the future seems quite bright for our steel soldiers. But is the technology involved in the MDARS (Mobile Detection and Response System) advanced enough to rely on just yet?
According to those funding the guards on the Nevada Nuclear Security Sight, the devices are able to guard the area at a fraction of the cost it would for armed troops using conventional vehicles. And these robots are capable of seeing and hearing far more in every direction while still withstanding the dangerously high doses of radiation in the area. And this isn’t a simple test either. The facilities are a high priority for security for obvious reasons. The materials involved include not only nuclear waste, but also old nuclear warheads from before the Cold War.
With the Army logo emblazoned across the front they look like smaller versions of the traditional Hummer trucks used in Iraq today, but with a robot at the top controlling its movements and scanning with massive sensors for intruders. The systems are almost entirely autonomous and require user input only in certain situations. With South Korea already utilizing similar robots to patrol some of the tensest areas in the world, it seems robots are the way of the future in the military. Robots do not get ill, they require only a small amount of sleep, and systems such as the MDARS only require a brief resting period to recharge twice a day during which time alternate units can by cycled in to replace them.