Some of the greatest achievements in science
and technology have come about because of military needs. One
such achievement is the Talon Robot by Foster-Miller which has
been recognized as one of the most amazing inventions of 2004 by
As the U.S. Army transforms into a lighter, more lethal force,
the need for small mobile weapons systems (SMWS) becomes more
crucial. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have already shown
great advantage as an extension of the soldier for RSTA
(reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition) missions,
and SMWS are becoming available to provide a critical multiplier
of the firepower in a transformed force.
There are more than 100 Talon Robots at work in Iraq and
Afghanistan performing EOD (explosive ordnance disposal) duties
which is a very dangerous job that is best done by the remote
controlled robot with the soldier operating the robot at a safe
distance away from the potential explosion.
TALON robots have been in continuous, active military service
since 2000 when they were successfully used in Bosnia to move
and dispose of live grenades. They were used extensively at
Ground Zero in search and recovery efforts after the September
11 attack on the World Trade Center and were the first robots
taken into Afghanistan by Special Forces during action against
the Taliban and Osama bin Laden in 2002. They went into Iraq
with US forces in March 2003. TALON™ robots have now completed
more than 20,000 EOD missions.
Foster-Miller has been awarded almost $65 million since October
2002 to continue developing and manufacturing TALON robots,
beginning with a $27.6 million contract from the Naval Surface
Warfare Center, Indian Head, MD. In March 2004, Foster-Miller
received $6 million from TSWG (the Technical Support Working
Group) and the Joint Program Office for Robotics to send more
robots to Iraq, followed by another $2.4 million from the Joint
Program Office in July. Foster-Miller has received more than $8
million to develop Sea Talon, an autonomous underwater version
of the robot that can be used to neutralize mines in shallow
water, from the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, FL.
The current order for robots is from the Naval Sea Systems
Command, Indian Head, MD, which buys EOD equipment for all
branches of the service.