March 30, 2009: The concept of tossing small combat robots into a room, and letting them broadcast back video of what's there, have never worked out. Partly because the small robots never got small enough to toss, or robust enough to work once they landed. That problem has now been solved with the development of the Recon Scout IR, a small (7.4 inch/18.6cm) wide device weighing 1.2 pounds/.54 kg) robot. It's basically two wheels with a thick axel containing a battery and electronics. The infrared camera can see about 25 feet (8 meters), while the day cam can see much farther. The Recon Scout IR can transmit its images 30 meters from inside a building, and three times that outside. It moves at a speed of about one foot (.3m) per second, and can survive being dropped about nine meters onto a hard surface. The controller weighs less than two pounds and has a 3.5 inch, 640x480 pixel screen. The Recon Scout IR is maneuvered using video game like controls.
To use the Recon Scout IR, you attach two antennae to the device, pull a pin to activate it, and then throw. The controller starts receiving transmissions as soon as the pin is pulled. Battery life depends on how much you move the device around, but it's good for 10-15 minutes of movement, more than enough to check out a large area before sending the troops in.
The Recon Scout IR sells mainly to law enforcement (SWAT teams in particular), but some military Special Operations organizations have bought it as well. Recon Scout IR systems cost about $8,000.