Articulating Arms: Military Use
Three specific uses for articulating arms by the U.S. military are remote control robots for IED detection, laser measuring systems, and computer and monitor mounts. Details are below.
- The MARCbot IV-N is a military vehicle used by the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy to investigate improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
- This vehicle uses an "articulated arm to maneuver a camera into position to confirm or deny a suspected IED."
- It is an unmanned vehicle and does not include a manipulator arm or gripper to remove an IED.
- The ability to use a remote controlled vehicle to confirm or deny the presence of an IED limits military personnel's exposure to potentially hostile environments.
- Both daytime and nighttime missions are supported as the camera includes low-light and LED array function.
- The camera can be raised up to three feet and extended by 1.2 feet to fully inspect containers from distances greater than 100 meters.
Faro Laser Tracker
- The Faro Laser Tracker is a portable coordinate measuring machine (CMM) used by the U.S. Army for repairs to combat vehicles.
- In conjunction with software, the portable CMM uses "point probing with laser sights and robotic arms... to create a 'point cloud' of the area being checked."
- The articulating arm of the device allows it to "perform dimensional analysis or geometric dimensions and tolerance measurements."
- CMMs are often used with Stryker vehicles because they have unique dimensions that other vehicles do not have.
- The machines are also used for quality checks and to place large equipment, but their primary use is to measure "anything from a vehicle hull to a small component with accuracy to thousandths of an inch."
- Other CMMs have been used to "evaluate the effectiveness of the body armor in standardized tests," as the CMM measures how far a projectile has penetrated military armor.
Monitor and Computer Displays
- Articulating arms are often used in the military for monitors and computer displays in vehicles.
- Monitors and computer displays are mounted in vehicles to allow operators to see outside the vehicles without windows.
- There are articulating arm mounts designed specifically for aircraft environments, which include military retrofit aircraft.
- Laptop mounts are among the most common uses of articulated arms in the military.
Articulated arms are typically used in military armored and unarmored vehicles for IED detection and removal. This use was already documented in our original findings, so we did not repeat it here. However, by expanding our time frame, we found a different vehicle that allows military personnel to mount a camera to an articulating arm and view an area remotely. While this is often used for IED detection, it can also be used for a variety of other purposes that would normally put military personnel in danger. Therefore, since it varies slightly from the example used in our original research, we decided to use it here. We then went on to search for two other military uses of articulating arms, specifically for armored or unarmored vehicles. To conduct this search, we first looked for mention of vehicle attachments in military publications like Army.mil, NIST, Military Times, and others. While we found some references to non-vehicle uses for articulating arms, there were no uses identified other than IED detection and removal.
We turned our attention to government publications and contracts that we hoped would detail the use of articulating arms on military vehicles. Sources such as Defense.gov, DOD.Defense.gov, USA.gov, and others were searched for companies that provide articulating arms to the government with the hopes that we would uncover different uses. Unfortunately, the only use we found for vehicles was again IED detection. There were some mentions of articulating laser measurement systems and monitor mounts, but since those were not specific to armored or unarmored vehicles, we initially rejected them.
Our third strategy was to search reputable media sources to see if any articles had been written on articulating arm use in the military. We examined Forbes, Time, Readers' Digest, New York Times, and others, but we only found articles on the same uses we had already discovered in other sources. At this point, we determined that the military primarily uses articulating arms on vehicles for IED detection and removal purposes and the only other uses are for laser measuring devices and monitor and computer mounts. Therefore, we provided information on those two uses as well as the unmanned vehicle use mentioned earlier.