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Robots in War: Hitler and Afghanistan

Updated on June 14, 2012
British with POE Goliaths in 1944
British with POE Goliaths in 1944
Devil Pup sniffing around in dark dangerous places
Devil Pup sniffing around in dark dangerous places
Devil pup checking out a suspicious car
Devil pup checking out a suspicious car
Devil Pup leading the humans
Devil Pup leading the humans

Hitler's Army for its time, 1939-44, was the best armed and skilled army on the planet. Every country borrowed something from them, whether it was techniques, arms, tank design, military tactics.

The Goliath

The first remote control robot steered with a joystick was designed and used by the German army in 1942, upon Hitler's orders. This was a remote controlled bomb packed with 170-220 lbs. of explosives and used in Warsaw during the Polish uprising in 1944. It was used wherever it was too dangerous for troops to enter. The Goliath had 1000 ft. and each were approximately 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 1 foot tall.

Each Goliath was disposable, being intended to be blown up with its target. It was slow, 6 mph, using either an electric or gas motor. When enemy troops first encountered them, it really was like some sort of alien approaching. They were small and their purpose were not known. Troops laughed and just watched until the first one exploded and killed. Then, then knew. Sometimes, the Germans would use them in groups of 4-6. Over 7500 were made.

The Devil Pup

The soldiers in Afghanistan\Iraq call it Devil Pup. Officially, it is the 310 SUGV. These robots are more like a "WALL-E", the kind you see in the movie. Like its predecessor, it sits on tank tracks but this has a manipulator arm and high-res camera. It can ride the "point" on a foot patrol. The arm is used to test for roadside bombs and can remove them. Unlike the Goliath, the Devil Pup, if damaged is lovingly repaired at the repair facility at Bagram airbase. They are too expensive. The Army has 3500 of them in Afghanistan and have lost 750 but have saved an equal amount of lives. The robot is costly at $9000 each. Of course, the Goliath was also at $1000. The Devil Pup will have new friends soon, there is a throwable version being deployed that can be dropped 15 ft.

It can be sent into buildings and caves to have looksie using its infra-red camera. Using rechargeable batteries, the it can travel for 45 minutes at a top speed of 6 mph. It is just more than 2 feet in length and stands less than a foot tall. A soldier carries it into the field, it weighs 35 lbs. Its two foot arm can lift up to 15 lbs.


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