The Creepy Robot That Hears You Breathing Through a Wall

By Patrick Morgan | February 8, 2011 10:56 am

The robotic ears of the U.S. Army just got an upgrade: now robots don’t have to be right next to a wall to detect humans breathing on the other side.

Created by the California company TiaLinx, the Cougar20-H is a radar-using robot that looks like a small blackboard on wheels. As Wired reports:

The … Cougar20-H “can … be remotely programmed at multiple way points to scan the desired premise in a multi-story building and provide its layout,” TiaLinx boasted.

The remote-controlled robot could save lives as troops battle insurgents in Afghanistan and other regions because it allows them to ‘see’ who’s inside a building before they physically enter. And there’s the possibility that it could be used to fight human trafficking or to help with rescue missions.

The Cougar20-H is the latest model in an ever-growing line of technology from TiaLinx that started with the Eagle5-N. As National Defense reports:

With the … Eagle5-N … “very, very minute motions can be detected,” founder and CEO Fred Mohamadi said…. In addition to breath detection, it can monitor a heartbeat and, by extension, the stress level of a person. It also can analyze the movement of a person’s rib cage. The Eagle5-N remotely uplinks the data it collects to a monitoring station.

In terms of technology, the company’s major achievement is the ability to stuff powerful radar capabilities into such a small device. The Eagle5-N eventually became the Cougar10-L when the gear was placed on a mobile robot. The latest Cougar is a more powerful bot which, unlike its predecessor, doesn’t have to have its ‘ear’ against the wall in order to hear a breath.

So now, thanks to science, unless terrorists and insurgents can hold their breath–and their heartbeats–for more than a few minutes, the army will find them out.

Related Content:
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Discoblog: Disarmingly Cute: 8 Military Robots That Spy, Fly, and Do Yoga
Discoblog: Military Blob-bot to Ooze Its Way Past Enemy Lines
DISCOVER: The Future of Terrorism

Image: TiaLinx

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