When we last left Clearpath Robotics, they were declaring that they had no interest in developing “killer robots”, meaning a robot that might take a decision to kill a human being without at least consulting another human first.
Now they’re in Chicago, at the International Conference for Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), where they’ve unveiled their Jackal Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV), a 17-kilogram version of their Husky model, which clocks in at about 50 kilograms.
Despite their anti-killer robot manifesto, Clearpath Robotics is not a pacifist company. They count the Canadian Department of Defense and the Navy, as well as the Canadian Space Agency, MIT, and Google, as clients.
Jackal was actually developed through a contract with US Army Research Labs (ARL), who provided feedback on the ROS (robot operating system) through each iteration.
“We designed Jackal for quick and easy application development,” said Julian Ware, General Manager for Research Products at Clearpath Robotics. “Jackal’s standard accessories come fully integrated with documented libraries and programming examples. Everything about the robot is ready to work out of the box.”
Far from being a “killer robot”, Jackal might just disarm an enemy with its cuteness.
The robot boasts GPS, as well as an intertial measurement unit (IMU) and a computer, which can be accessed underneath the mounting platform. The mount can hold sensors or cameras, making research in remote conditions relatively easy. Jackal is weatherproof and can operate in conditions down to -20 and as high as 45 degrees Celsius. It’s got a 4×4 high-torque drivetrain with 500 watts of power for getting itself out of awkward situations.
The mounting plates can be swapped out, too, to change payloads without having to disassemble the entire unit.
Jackal furthers Clearpath’s stated objective of creating robots to “automate the world’s dullest, deadliest and dirtiest jobs” (the three Ds).