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Video: USMC’s New Robot Rifle Targets

by John Reed on September 30, 2011

I came across this creepy looking dude this week at the Modern Day Marine expo in Quantico, Va. The autonomous robot is the latest in targeting tech being used by the U.S. Marine Corps.

Made by the Aussie firm Marathon Targets, the robot is designed to move at human speeds and can be deployed in packs of randomly moving targets — giving troops experience firing at moving targets before entering combat. The robots can be programmed to scatter or move as if making a counterattack when they are fired at and trainers can even decide how many hits it takes to eliminate one of the robots. The upper half is built of durable plastic designed to absorb small arms fire while the motor and electronic parts sit in the armored boxes at the bottom of the robot.

“The design objective was to fill the existing gap in training in all countries — the lack of realistic target training,” Martahon Targets’ co-founder Alex Makarenko told DT yesterday during this year’s Modern Day Marine expo in Quantico, Va. “What happens today is a situation where soldiers, for the first time shoot at realistic moving targets [only] once they are in a firefight in a war zone. This is the most realistic target you can buy today. Because it’s trackless, we can make it look like, move like and even behave like people.”

Marathon is on contract to deliver a set of the targets to the Marines later this year, according to Makarenko.

Click through the jump to watch a video of Marines shooting at the targets during an evaluation last June:

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

M167A1 September 30, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Aww I miss the pop-up targets……

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Vstress October 4, 2011 at 5:37 pm

I assume that using the fact it is a sedgeway type device… the gyro could shut off and let the thing drop to the floor…

Hence this thing should be perfectly capable of going prone.

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Marcase September 30, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Targets?! Why use those for targeting? Put a real gun on them and ship them out…! :)

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DecentWeasel September 30, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Am I the only fellow here who's pleased that we're shooting Segways?

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kim September 30, 2011 at 1:32 pm

No….

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M167A1 September 30, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Lock, load and engage!

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Musson1 September 30, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Looks like Osama on a Segway.

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M167A1 September 30, 2011 at 4:33 pm

What you say?

it neither wet, embedded in the seafloor nor being feasted upon by 72 cuttlefish.

:-P

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Lance September 30, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Looks fun when do they sell them to gun clubs too? LOL

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Dumb Grunt October 1, 2011 at 4:35 am

Maybe, but it won't be cheap. Looks like great fun to me.

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Indian September 30, 2011 at 6:14 pm

he was supposed to get 72 virgins, but I only see one 'virgibot'. this is unfair to bin laden.
;-)

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r1tual September 30, 2011 at 9:15 pm

Pretty cool.

For some critique though, the bottom looks like it needs to be hardened from bullets? Maybe round out the edges to deflect bullets more? I always am in awe at how much money is spent on defense, and if we are going to use robots as target dummies, mine as well make them last because im sure they are expensive for targets. Like one stray shot to the wheel base and you make it inoperable?

When I join the military maybe I will get to see them in action!

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Zepheris October 1, 2011 at 9:52 pm

when they say armored, i am certain that they at least have the common sense to mean that it's fully armored to withstand small arms, not armoring the electronics and other vital parts with sufficient armor for small arms would be a darwin award for the designer.

And i am not quite sure you want to intentionally deflect the bullets at small angle in the firing range, the last thing anyone want is to have the bullet deflected and travel significant distance to somewhere not within the boundary of the firing range.

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Stewie October 9, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Simple enough to fix. build up a berm in front of the bots so the shooters cannot hit the lower parts. Cheap, easy.

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Woops October 9, 2011 at 8:35 pm

but then the contractor doesn't make enough money! You're not thinking with your bank account!

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Kski October 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm

More live fire target practice. Do the faces come with Saddam's and Osama's faces?

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crackedlenses October 1, 2011 at 5:20 pm

I know alot of people who would love to get fomer presidents faces too….

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Brian Black October 2, 2011 at 4:33 pm

In the documentary film ‘Short Circuit’ a lightning strike gave Number5 self-awareness. It can only be a matter of time before one of these begins to realise what is happening.

I’m concerned that these robots have cruelly not been given the means to articulate their reluctance to be shot. I would be much more comfortable if the military used zombies for target practise instead.

Robots are people too.

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Brian Black October 2, 2011 at 4:33 pm

In the documentary film ‘Short Circuit’ a lightning strike gave Number5 self-awareness. It can only be a matter of time before one of these begins to realise what is happening.

I’m concerned that these robots have cruelly not been given the means to articulate their reluctance to be shot. I would be much more comfortable if the military used zombies for target practise instead.

Robots are people too.

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Letsallbefriends October 3, 2011 at 3:10 am

Good point. And what if the UCAVs see us shooting their little Segway brothers? I’ve seen Battlestar Galactica, I know how this ends!

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John Johnson October 3, 2011 at 2:38 pm

STUPID waste of $$$, this segway. If you want more realistic way to train soldiers how to take down moving targets whey don't they do this?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzB8X9-g32A&
Jump to 6:07
Video showing OPFOR that's attached to Korean Combat Training Center (KCTC) in target shooting training. These guys practice shooting blanks (with MILES) on fellow soldiers who are trying hard to not get shot (or painted). Much more realistic training for shooting down 'moving/ducking' targets, AND also teaches 'targets' not to get shot, which is just as important as target shooting.

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Riceball October 3, 2011 at 6:24 pm

MILES is great for wargaming but it's not completely realistic, for instance, simple things like leaves can block the laser making a bush solid cover. This system is good for general training by individual units hitting the range, this would supplement their basic marksmanship training. This system is probably cheaper than MILES and can be used at any base with a combat town type of setup, so now combat towns can also act as a live fire range of sorts.

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John Johnson October 4, 2011 at 2:09 am

I disagree. In the video they are not using ANY kind of foliage because well the segways need paved area to move around. I think being under pressure of being shot at while trying to hit target is better use of $.

I don't think the 5 segways present a better use of money than putting together a MILES setup for platoon + a few bad guys.

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Vstress October 4, 2011 at 5:34 pm

I'm surprised nobody replied this point…

The miles is good, but the problem with moving targets is "leading" them!!! Also – bullet drop, windage etc.

MILES is a laser system, therefore wherever you point the barrel you are "shooting".

It is irrelevant of how good MILES is – it is a completely different tool!

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Glen Bradley October 4, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Exactly. MILES is great for wargaming, but if a Marine bases his ability to hit moving targets on MILES gear, he will miss the target when it gets real. Photons move a heck of a lot faster than 2800 feet per second.

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John Johnson October 5, 2011 at 2:18 am

'he will miss the target when it gets real'.

I hear you that MILES is not the same as shooting live ammo. BUT the segways are NOT shooting back. How real is that?

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Nick October 4, 2011 at 1:29 am

It would be better if the Marines on the range did a 5km run with packs on and then have a smoke grenade to obscure the target in order to achieve realism.

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A.Lentz October 4, 2011 at 9:10 am

lads, this system works. it's been used by Australian SASR for a while now.
while these units make a good target, I believe the idea behind the system is to assist a shooters awareness and improve operating procedures regarding target observation and engagement. I did not see where the makers of this product believe it would replace other forms of training.

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carlos October 4, 2011 at 7:45 pm

The training looks good. Shows accuracy from those Marines, if that was the results of this training, then is effective!

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Snidely70448 October 6, 2011 at 9:24 am

These targets are not shooting back. Amazing how much that little detail will change the experience.

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yukrrr October 7, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Kski Didn't you mean the faces of maddam bulosi and presyomama? Now THAT would be worth shootin' for…..Priceless!

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John Johnson October 4, 2011 at 2:05 am

Umm no. The K2 rifles are shooting blanks but with laser pointers, recording who hit which part of which soldier. In the battalion size exercise run on KCTC, each solder's record (kill or killed) is recorded. Ok that's overkill compared to this segway target system but still I think human to human with blank+MILES is better solution. Why not run a platoon versus 3 bad guys scenario?

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