The Modern American Hero: Unmanned Vehicle?

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With the advent of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) like the Reaper and Predator drones, it is becoming increasingly clear to many military strategists that wars of the future will be fought primarily by machines. In the US, according to, most of these gadgets have been reserved for the Air Force, but the Marine Corps has been developing its own specialized mechanical units.

Capt. Adam Thomas, the project officer for the Warfighting Lab’s Aviation Combat Element Branch told that UAVs went from something few understood to something all US military commanders want.

One such device is the Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS), developed by defense contractor Qinetiq, designed to be a reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition system, all in one.

Similar to the SWORDS armed UGV robot, MAARS is outfitted with an M240B machine gun, four M203 grenade launcher tubes, and can carry roughly 300 pounds.

Significantly smaller than either unmanned ground vehicle is the PD-100 Black Hornet Nano, a UAV that can fit in the palm of the hand. Weighing less than an ounce, the Black Hornet can provide aerial surveillance and is operated by ground troops in real time. The Black Hornet is designed by Norwegian company Prox Dynamics, and can be retrofitted with night-vision capabilities and long-wave infrared video sensors.

A number of other technologies being tested by the Marines include devices for reusable energy and water purification.