Technology tested at Ft. Benning is saving soldier lives - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Technology tested at Ft. Benning is saving soldier lives

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December 9, 2005

Ft. Benning- Technologies developed right here in south Georgia are saving lives on battlefields around the world. The Air Assault Expeditionary Force has set up The Soldiers Lab at Ft. Benning to work on these projects.

What the Soldiers Lab does is pairs soldiers with the engineers behind the robotics designs. It allows soldiers to test those robots in practical use settings, so when they are put on the battlefield, they're the best they can be. Soldiers say the Packbot may be one of the most practical and useful devices they're testing.

"That's what were doing in operations overseas, it's designed for what we're doing. It goes up stairs, you can clear buildings without sending soldiers in there," said SPC Ryan Bell, Ft. Benning.

It's virtually indestructible and can search anything from a building to a cave or under a vehicle ensuring troop safety.

"We've sent it ahead of a convoy to check for IED's, if you didn't have that capability, your convoy rolls through it and there it goes," said Bell.

That's the purpose of The Soldier Battle Lab to test some 40 projects, it's the quickest way to get a useful product into soldier hands.

"Is this technology mature enough to take directly to the battlefield? If you look at things like the Packbot and Toughbot, those kind of things are being used today in Afghanistan and Iraq," said Four star General Scott Wallace, Ft. Benning.

It has prompted independent companies to bring ideas to the army.

"They know there's a war going on, they know that our soldiers need help on occasion and they know that they have technologies that might provide that help. From the prospective of the army that's a win, win situation," said Wallace.

It's also testing future technologies not yet in use like the Buster surveillance plane.

"You can pick people off of roof tops with it, you can find potential enemy counter attach forces in the wood line," said Lt. Nathan Rushing, Ft. Benning.

Ultimately the end result is that this technology saves solider lives.

"The robots that you see displayed here are being used today in both of those venues, looking for the very IED's that you were talking about, all of this stuff as it comes together, ultimately you're right it saves lives," said General Wallace.

Buster isn't being used right now in a combat situation, but they say there are other planes similar to it that are. Ft. Benning's Soldier Lab is in its second year. The project is was designed as a four year initiative.

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