FORT POLK, La. - Children often play with remote control cars during their childhood. Some children also want to be Soldiers when they grow up.
Now the Army is now giving servicemembers the opportunity to play with remote controlled cars on the job, but these are not the type purchased at any toy store. These robots save lives.
Paratroopers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division received training on how to effectively use the Multifunctional Agile Remote Controlled Robot at the Joint Readiness Training Center. In doing so, these Fort Bragg N.C.-based Paratroopers now have a new tool at their disposal for the brigade's upcoming deployment in support of the war on terror.
Known as the MARCbot IV, the robot resembles a remote controlled car. The MARCbot IV has proven to be a powerful tool against combating terrorist activity with its moveable camera arm, ability to be controlled from a long distance and hours of battery life.
"MARCbot IV is an observation platform that gives Soldiers the ability to have some stand off range for a suspected improvised explosive device," said Sgt 1st Class Kelly Taylor, a Robotic Systems Head Project Office sergeant. "Instead of having to go down to physically look at an IED or suspected IED, they can send the MARCbot IV to put an extra set of eyes on it to verify whether or not it is an IED."
With its relatively cheap production cost and ease of operation, the MARCbot IV is ideal for mass distribution and integration in the U.S. Central Command theater.
"The MARCbot IV is available for anybody from administration to Explosive Ordinance Disposal personnel to use. It's designed so anyone can use it," said Taylor.
During the familiarization course, Paratroopers had their chance to acquaint themselves with the MARCbot IV and most were proficient with it within 30 minutes.
It takes some getting used to the handling, but it is very doable, said Pfc. Troy Jones Company D, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT. Anyone can do it.
The MARCbot IV saves lives, it also saves time.
"It frees up EOD to respond to credible threats," said Spc. Gustavo Mansilla, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2-505, 3rd BCT. Instead of having EOD personnel bother with objects that look like IEDs, but are really just pieces of trash.
When Soldiers are on patrols, they run into debris all over the country, said Spc. Phillip Howard, Company D, 2-505th, 3rd BCT. Previously, when they would encounter something suspicious, they would have to call up an EOD unit to come and clear the area, which could take hours. The MARCbot IV now allows Soldiers to cut through all that time.
Having been fielded in both Iraq and Afghanistan, it is easy to see why the MARCbot IV has had success.
"I think that it is definitely a valuable and useful tool," said Mansilla. "It helps cut down on the static time a convoy has, so there is less time for it to be identified."
Mansilla continues about the viability of the MARCbot IV.
"It's been really great to see the Army go outside of the box and finding a cheap, but really good solution," said Mansilla. "It solves a problem. Instead of risking Soldiers lives, you are risking a robot."
As part of a new breed of unmanned reconnaissance tools, the MARCbot IV with its small stature, makes big contributions to the U.S. military. Paratroopers of 3rd BCT, 82nd Airborne Division have taken notice and will make the most of this powerful tool in their upcoming deployment this fall in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.