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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 September 2007, 19:18 GMT 20:18 UK
Sniper-sniffing robot created
Locust robot (Copyright University of Portmouth)
Bombs and snipers in crowded places are spotted by the robot
A flying robot that can identify snipers and bombs in built-up areas has been shortlisted in a national Ministry of Defence (MoD) competition.

Portsmouth University said the "locust" - a multi-function sensor system - was developed with the firm Ant Scientific.

It will be put to the test against 16 other sniper-sniffing robots in the MoD's "grand challenge" in August 2008.

The university said the test was to stay one step ahead of an enemy who does not play by any rules.

University of Portsmouth said their specialists in aerodynamic modelling, robotics and wireless communications helped to design it.

We are fighting ideologies espoused by very clever extremists not constrained by a public purse or legal concerns
Charlie Baker-Wyatt, University of Portsmouth

"The challenge was to create devices that could be used in the fight against people who don't fight under established rules," said Charlie Baker-Wyatt, manager of the university's defence and homeland security research section.

"We are fighting ideologies espoused by very clever extremists.

"They are often one step ahead of the game and not constrained by a public purse, health and safety, environmental or legal concerns or even their fellow human beings."

Twenty-three teams entered the competition and 16 were shortlisted. The final will see them compete to find "targets" at Copehill Down, the army's urban warfare training facility in Wiltshire.

The winning team will be given military funding and the R J Mitchell Trophy, named after the "father" of the Spitfire.

The winners will also have the high chance of their invention being put into commercial production, potentially earning the designers enormous sums of money, the university said.

Mark Baker, head of research and knowledge transfer at the University of Portsmouth, said: "This is a good example of the university responding to the defence needs of Government and using our research capabilities in a new way."


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