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The Military

Journal Journal: Lemons to Lemonade: The LandShark

The Associated Press reports on Brian Hart's Black-I Robotics "company that has developed rugged, relatively inexpensive robotic vehicles, resembling small dune buggies, to disable car bombs and roadside explosives before they detonate in hot spots like Iraq and Afghanistan."

At 275 pounds and about 4 feet long, Black-I's LandShark looks like a dune buggy without a seat for a human driver. Hart hopes to make them available for commercial sale to law enforcement next year, with expectations that the cost would be $65,000 to $85,000 per robot, including the chassis and add-on bomb-disposing equipment. The vehicle can pull tilling equipment to plow up soil where an explosive or trip wire may be hidden. Or it can drop off "disrupters" that can be maneuvered near a bomb and set off, with jets of water disabling the bomb.

Yes, this is a sort of feelgood story, because Hart's motivation was sparked by his son's death after an ambush in Iraq, presumably involving an improvised explosive device. OTOH, it's a practical channeling of energy, unlike so many others--myself included--who tend to rage blindly and/or repeat talking points to vent anger and/or frustration with the conflict.

Mr. Hart has a blog, but at the risk of shutting down his provider (not likely, actually, there's a clue for you) after a thorough Slashdotting, I'll leave the discovery as an exercise to the reader. I personally find it well researched and informative, and conspicuously absent of product promotion.

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