Video: Autonomous tank ‘bot defuses IEDs

Mesa Robotics has built an autonomous tank that drives itself and automatically defuses Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

As Wired Danger Room’s Spencer Ackerman notes, the Alabama-based company considers the Acer ‘bot a “one-stop shop” for the US Army’s ground-robot needs, from defusing insurgent bombs to acting as a pack mule.

The Acer’s AI – dubbed 5D – was coded by ex-Darpa employee Steve Bruemmer, who designed a  “behavior engine” capable of providing “intelligent instantaneous reactive responses to local environmental, sensor and other data.”

“You could literally send it down the road and it’d run for 18 hours,” Mesa VP Tim Cutshaw told Danger Room. 

“What the army wants is interoperability and autonomy, and [the Acer’s] 5D [behavior engine] brings that to the table. [The next step is] helping the Army figure out how to use this vehicle.”

Unfortunately, Mesa may be running out of time to, as the Acer is priced at a cool $250,000, which is likely too high for the cash-strapped U.S. Army – which is eyeing a 2014 exit from Afghanistan.