DARPA to raise robot army

'LANdroids' would form communications network

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency plans to develop a fleet of robots that soldiers can deploy in urban combat settings as they move through houses and along streets.

The program, dubbed LANdroid, envisions miniature autonomous drones that can form a network capable of relaying radio traffic in a setting often considered challenging for communications equipment.

According to a notional image of a LANdroid included in a DARPA pamphlet, each robot will be about the size of a deck of cards, and must be rugged, lightweight and able to operate for seven to 14 days, the agency said.

Demand for technologies to improve the military's ability to fight in urban settings has increased in recent years because many of the operations in Iraq take place in Baghdad and other Iraqi metropolitan settings.

DARPA officials will provide additional information about the program during a July 6 industry day.

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