Mini Robots to Help Troops in Afghanistan

Knowing what lies around the corner is rarely more important than when you're in combat, and Marines will now be able to test out a pint-sized robot that could be a lifesaver.

What sounds like science fiction will become reality in the next year when Marines in Afghanistan test throwable robots in real-life combat situations. Small enough to fit in a backpack or a cargo pocket and durable enough to be thrown anywhere, these wheeled robots might come in handy for Marines caught in tight combat situations.

Weighing a little more than a pound, the Scout XT robot by Minneapolis-based ReconRobotics Inc. looks like a handle wedged between two wheels.

The tiny robot comes equipped with a camera that can relay live video back to a small screen that can be held by a Marine who might want to check out what's behind a wall or around the corner. Darkness is no obstacle for the camera that also has infrared technology.

The company received a $1.7 million contract earlier this month to deliver 126 of its Scout XT robots that, according to ABC News San Diego affiliate KGTV, will be delivered by April 30.

The robots are designed to take a fall and work within seconds. "It's a small, throwable robot system. In five seconds, you can turn this one and throw it to where you need it to be," Ernest Langdon, director of military programs at ReconRobotics, told KGTV.

A Marine can control the small robot with a joystick and maneuver it into any kind of situation where an enemy fighter might be lurking. It can be tossed onto a roof, over a wall, driven around a corner or into crawl spaces.

"You can throw it as hard as you want; it's designed to take 30-foot drops onto concrete," Langdon said.

Although the tiny robot might be new to the battlefield, robots have become a common sight in Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly when it comes to disarming roadside bombs.