How do you make sniper target practice more helpful and more fun? By shooting at Segway robots, of course.
To train its snipers in realistic conditions, the Australian Department of Defence enlisted the help of Marathon Robotics of Sydney, Australia, to set up a course populated by Segways with plastic, 3D, human-size dummies onboard.
The Segways are programmed to wander around a small village aimlessly, with the robots leaning forward to accelerate and backward to stop, making them harder to hit. When a sniper does pick one of them off, the system provides instant visual feedback by stopping and dropping the mannequin. The robots then all scatter automatically.
The Rover system (PDF) uses GPS and a scanning laser rangefinder for navigation, positioning, and obstacle detection and avoidance.
It's all pretty clever and awesome, really, and it makes me want to become a sniper just so I can do this, which feels like a real-life video game. But I won't, because they are practicing so they can get good at shooting real people in the head. I guess I'll just stick with the video games. See a video of the Rover system in action after the jump.