Increasingly, and without much
fanfare, robots are pulling more and more of the guard duty in combat zones.
For example, except for an occasional rocket or mortar shell, U.S. bases in
Iraq and Afghanistan don't get attacked much. Unlike the Vietnam war, when
skilled enemy "sapper" commandoes often got past defenses and burst into
American bases, there has been nothing like that in Iraq. The main reason has
been sensor systems have been largely unbeatable by an often determined enemy.
RUMS (Remote Urban Monitoring System) is one of the
more notable electronic security systems in use. It uses large numbers of
sensors that detect motion, sound or vibrations from feet hitting the ground.
This is nothing new, nor are the multiple night vision cameras that cover the
area containing the ground sensors. The new wrinkle is making this stuff more
reliable. Systems like this are known for the number of false alarms they
generate. RUMS has two ways to eliminate the false alarms. First, the sensors
are hooked up to a computer, where software analyses sensors going off, and
knows when it's likely to be a person coming through, or the wind blowing
debris around. If the computer believes there is someone out there, , a human
operator is summoned to check out the video, to confirm that there is something
out there. At that point, you can alert troops to turn their night vision
weapons sights on the threat, and do something about it. With a setup like
this, one operator can monitor the perimeter security for a large base. RUMS can be used everywhere, both for
perimeter security, and even inside the base, at places people are supposed to
stay away from (ammo storage, high security areas, like the RUMS control room.)