To counter the deadly threat of hidden explosives in urban environments, the US Department of Defense forged ahead with development of a camera-carrying tracked robotic system intended to remove the human risk. This initiative gave rise to the "Unmanned Ground Vehicle/Systems Joint Program Office" (UGV/S JPO) charged with producing a viable end-product for the project. The goal was to produce a robot capable of remote-control traversal of urban indoor/outdoor environments as required. The result became the URBOT based on the Foster-Miller "Lemming" and evaluations with US Army representatives were held as early as 1999.
The URBOT consists of a centralized chassis/hull incorporating the drivetrain, camera and response/navigational facilities. The hull is straddled by a short track system for uneven terrain traversal. The URBOT incorporates its own headlights for low-light/no-light work and its camera function is integrated into the design. Operation is via a remote-control unit from an operator well-removed of danger. A speaker system allows for verbal communication with any parties spotted in the URBOT's video feed. Communications to and from the URBOT unit itself are wholly wireless which does away with any tangling of lines. Due to its rather basic design, the URBOT can operate either rightside-up or upside-down so no complicated internal balancing measures are required in its construction (the camera facilities are doubled along both top and bottom hull panels for this very reason).
The URBOT has proven useful to bomb disposal units charged with identifying potential battlefield threats while also doubling as an ad hoc reconnaissance element in urban settings across the Iraqi Theater during Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is proposed that the URBOT will eventually be developed into a "field surgeon" form as well as an armed "hunter-killer" model.