Stealthy surveillance robots designed for police, military
David Edwards and Chris Tackett
Published: Friday March 28, 2008

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With rising casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan and violations of privacy in the United States and abroad being popular discussion topics, advances in military robotics and spy technology have also become a popular topic of news coverage.

One video that has received a great deal of press coverage and been seen at least three million times in recent days is of a new robot called "Big Dog" that was designed by Boston Dynamics. The robot, which has four legs and a remarkable ability to keep its balance - even when kicked hard by a human, as demonstrated in its popular internet video debut - is meant to be a "pack mule" and carry large loads for the military. Because of the interesting way it moves, the video demonstration, which shows it walking up steep, snow-covered terrain, has been a viral video phenomenon, even sparking one business to use it as a source for their marketing efforts..

Good Morning America featured another one of these new robots. The "StickyBot" is a robot inspired by the gecko lizard that uses dry adhesive 'hands' to grip smooth surfaces, such as a window, allowing it to scale buildings or other objects. The machine, which was designed by Stanford University on behalf of the Pentagon, could be used for search and rescue missions, intelligence gathering, or other uses.

Another robot that advances spy tech is the "RoboSwift", a bird-like flying robot that includes a video camera for aerial spying. Below is a video from Reuters of the "RoboSwift" in action. With its 'morphing' wings that allow it to make fast turns, it is one of the most-advanced birdlike robots.

Other flying spy machines made news, when it was reported that tiny, dragonfly-like machines were seen flying among anti-war protesters in Washington, DC. Earlier this week it was reported that the Miami-Dade Police Department is seeking approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to use a pilotless drone to help fight crime, according to Reuters.

Videos of the "Big Dog" robot can be seen here.