Researchers at the Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Laboratories have developed a robot that could operate around humans without being detected.
The robot takes a zigzag path to avoid well-lit areas and sentries, and approaches the target building under the cover of darkness, reports New Scientist.
It builds a computer model of its surroundings and incorporates information on lines of sight. A laser scanner covertly maps its environment in 3D, and acoustic sensors distinguish nearby footsteps and their direction.
According to lead engineer Brian Satterfield, the robot avoids visible detection by sentries of known locations, potential detection by sentries whose positions are unknown, areas in which the robot has no means of escape, and areas that are well lit.
To make it hard to spot in the dark, the robot was painted black.
If the robot believes it is in danger of being detected by an approaching sentry, it will try to get to a place where it can hide, said Satterfield.
The robot was built with off-the-shelf components.
However, he said that specialised hardware, which is more compact and quieter, would improve future robots’ mobility and their ability to stay hidden.
“There are very few fundamental limits that would prevent robots from eventually conducting extended covert missions and evading detection by humans,” said Satterfield.