The Coolest Warbots, Drones, and Unmanned Tech at the Robotic Systems Show

Here in Vegas, at North America's biggest unmanned systems show, warbots abound even as the defense industry explores its civilian side

LAS VEGAS–The exhibition floor at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s annual North American show–the largest expo for both civilian and military unmanned robotic hardware in the country–opened yesterday, and for the rest of the week the robots are taking over, at least at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in sunny Las Vegas. Naturally, PopSci just couldn’t stay away.

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This year’s show is cast against a backdrop that is somewhat austere for the many, many robotics systems makers who exhibit here. Most of them do the majority of their businesses with governments around the world, many of which–like the United States–are facing huge cuts in military spending and a slowdown in the acquisition of new technologies. But when the age of austerity closes a door, Congress every so often opens a window. The mandated integration of unmanned systems into the U.S. national airspace by 2015 has many makers of unmanned aerial systems looking to apply their technology to civilian skies, while unmanned ground vehicle makers are making inroads into spaces like telepresence, site security, ground-based infrastructure inspection, and cargo logistics.

It’s a brave new robotic world here at AUVSI. Here’s a quick roundup of some of the coolest things we’ve come across so far, and check back throughout the week–we’ll be updating this list and posting additional coverage as the week unfolds.