The pocket-sized ThrowBot is a sub-kilogram-class robot that provides short-range remote eyes and ears for urban combat. This paper provides an overview of lessons learned from experience, testing, and evaluation of the iRobot ThrowBot developed under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Tactical Mobile Robots (TMR) program. Emphasis has been placed on investigating requirements for the next generation of ThrowBots to be developed by iRobot Corporation and SPAWAR Systems Center, San Diego (SSC San Diego) Unmanned Systems Branch. Details on recent evaluation activities performed at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) test site at Fort Benning, GA, are included, along with insights obtained throughout the development of the ThrowBot since its inception in 1999 as part of the TMR program.
Robot technology is developing at a rapid rate for both commercial and Department of Defense (DOD) applications. As a result, the task of managing both technology and experience information is growing. In the not-to-distant past, tracking development efforts of robot platforms, subsystems and components was not too difficult, expensive, or time consuming. To do the same today is a significant undertaking. The Mobile Robot Knowledge Base (MRKB) provides the robotics community with a web-accessible, centralized resource for sharing information, experience, and technology to more efficiently and effectively meet the needs of the robot system user. The resource includes searchable information on robot components, subsystems, mission payloads, platforms, and DOD robotics programs. In addition, the MRKB website provides a forum for technology and information transfer within the DOD robotics community and an interface for the Robotic Systems Pool (RSP). The RSP manages a collection of small teleoperated and semi-autonomous robotic platforms, available for loan to DOD and other qualified entities. The objective is to put robots in the hands of users and use the test data and fielding experience to improve robot systems.