|Last week I blogged about how Flash and AIR are used in the motion picture industry. This week I wanted to talk about another fascinating use of Adobe AIR. Wade Arnold and his company T8DESIGN built an AIR interface for the US military that is used to drive a cutting edge combat robot call the R-Gator. You all know Wade as the developer of AMFPHP and now the Zend AMF framework. Well in his real job he is building things that are helping to save the lives of our troops. The R-Gator is essentially an unmanned vehicle that is driven remotely using an XBOX 360 controller of all things.|
Wade talked to me a bit about the scenarios about how these are being used in the field. The R-Gator can be used as an unmanned recon scout or continuose perimeter base defense. Troops will also send the robot into hostile areas and make it appear as if it is being driven by actual troops. The vehicle can also be equipped with REDOWL, or Robot Enhanced Detection Outpost with Lasers, that can detect and locate snipers and mortars on the very first shot fired at personnel or vehicles. The operator can then provide a measured response using a 50 caliber machine gun that is mounted on the back. The R-Gator can also be equipped with a thermal laser to light up targets for air strikes. This keeps troops out of harms way while the R-Gator takes all the risks. Click on the images below to see some screenshots of the interface.
Wade also mentioned how the XBOX controller is preferred as young troops are accustomed to it which I thought was pretty funny. For obvious reasons I can’t go into a lot of details about the underlying technology but it is essentially an Adobe AIR front-end that streams live video using FMS. It has a Linux operating system and there was quite a bit of custom work that T8 had to do to get it running. The R-Gator was created by John Deere and represents the cutting edge of today’s military.