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Sniper Detector

July 19, 2006

Robots that mimic human hearing could be useful on and off the battlefield.


Robots on the battlefield. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

You’re a soldier on patrol, and a sniper fires at you. You need to take cover, but the shooter could be anywhere. Soldiers in this situation may soon look to a robot called REDOWL. Thanks to sound-processing technology designed to improve cochlear implants for deaf people, REDOWL can identify the exact location of a gunshot. It can then turn to the shooter and zoom in with a camera. Engineer Socrates Deligeorges of Boston University says the technology is modeled after the way humans hear.

…basically neuron by neuron. How the mechanical structures take sound pressure waves, convert them to electrical signals, and how the brain uses those electrical signals.

Deligeorges says the technology has also proven useful for monitoring machinery and even taking a census of frogs. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.