U.S. Army personnel need remotely operated robots armed with sensors capable of detecting car bombs, anthrax and other biological or chemical agents, and radioactive material. In response, the SSIM's SAVES (Sensory Augmented Vehicle Enhancement Systems) project is designing a variety of sensors for ODIS, a small, mobile, wireless robot under development by the Army to follow remote joystick commands and scoot under cars and desks looking for anything suspicious. ODIS, more formally known as the omni-directional inspection system, is currently equipped with visual and heat-sensing cameras that can find explosives and contraband. Sensors, however, will vastly expand its identification skills.
SSIM engineers are involved in constructing advanced Raman biological and chemical sensors (see section on Biological, Chemical and Radiation Sensors), solid-state radiation imaging arrays and the associated electronics, and high-density transmission/reflection ultrasound arrays that allow users to see through solid objects and into liquid containers, and also determine liquid-density abnormalities that signal potential hazards.
Besides its obvious benefit for soldiers who commonly perform up-close, manual scans of cars, the technology would also be a great advantage to customs agents and other security personnel who must quickly and accurately scrutinize high numbers of vehicles and/or packages to protect the public.