Magazine article National Defense

Robots Become Nuclear Site's Junkyard Dogs'

Magazine article National Defense

Robots Become Nuclear Site's Junkyard Dogs'

Article excerpt

The new security guard at a famous nuclear testing site north of Las Vegas may lack heart, but it has enough brainpower to keep intruders away from government secrets buried on the property. Eventually a team of robots will patrol sensitive remote locations at the Nevada National Security Site, perhaps best known for providing the backdrop to 1950s images of mushroom cloud explosions. For now, one machine is making the rounds at the site, which covers an area larger than Rhode Island. The robot's assignment involves keeping watch over 25 acres of underground pits containing classified government materials.

"It's like a junkyard dog," said Stephen Scott, a senior engineer at the National Nuclear Security Administration. "We tell it what area to protect and what to look for and it does the rest."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Designed by General Dynamics, the machine travels at 20 miles per hour, has night vision and can keep track of inventory, gates, locks and other barriers by using radio frequency identification tags. It is the same robot employed by the Army, which has the ability to weaponize it. In Nevada, it remains unarmed. …

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