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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

TRAP Guy Fawkes Forging the finest print

The Telepresent Rapid Aiming Platform (TRAP) is a marksman's dr

Various things from various places.

The Telepresent Rapid Aiming Platform (TRAP) is a marksman's dream. The remote-controlled weapon never has jitters under pressure, and can place every shot right on target. But what California police officers evaluating TRAP really like is that the crab-like contraption can take their place in the line of fire.

The TRAP can be placed out in the open while the controller remains safely behind cover.

"Telepresent" technology, according to inventor Graham Hawkes, gives human operators the ability to see, hear and feel their way through hazardous environments from a safe distance.

"We just decided that air space punctuated by bullets was a dangerous environment," Hawkes said. "And it was pretty silly to send flesh and blood in there, so it was a good application for a remote."

TRAP's eyes are two cameras. One, with a wide-angle lens, gives an observer a view on a television monitor. Another, the gunscope camera, magnifies the targeting site by a factor of nine.

Motors called "actuators" are TRAP's muscles, enabling it to track targets side to side and up and down. Guided by chips and buzzers, a thumb-operated joystick allows an officer to aim.

In just one training session, sharpshooters can become proficient enough with the tripod-mounted assault rifle that they aim and fire accurately almost as quickly as the old fashioned way.

"That's incredible. I mean, you work on this thing for about ten minutes and you've got it," says one police officer.

In one simulation, TRAP's accuracy encourages one trainee to attempt a head shot even though the "hostage" is perilously close. The video monitor camera quivers when the "shot" discharges, smack in the middle of the cross hairs.

Sloan, too, is impressed by TRAP's pinpoint accuracy. "You could hit a 50-cent piece at 100 yards consistently," he says. A decorated sharpshooter and member of the city's Special Operations team, Sloan says the TRAP might prove even more useful in surveillance.

"In fact the last thing I see this used as is as a lethal device," he says. "I see it more as an information gathering device."

TRAP has attracted interest, mostly from police departments. Yet Hawkes says the technology may better serve prisons, military bases and other sensitive areas with large perimeters where several TRAPs, monitored by one person, could take the place of human guards. The Air Force has expressed strong interest, he says.

The robo-rifle has some limitations. In fluid situations, like a bank robbery gone sour in which criminals shoot it out with police, the immobile TRAP would be at a distinct disadvantage. And in the case of the recent police shooting of an unarmed immigrant in New York, the officers, who were searching for a criminal suspect, would not have likely carried around a 35-pound device or have had time to set it up.

But Sloan thinks TRAP has enough potential to justify its $47,000 price tag. "It's useful and can save lives. 'What's a life worth?' is what I'm looking at," he says.

Police special forces in San Francisco and Los Angeles could soon find out. They will conduct a three-month test using TRAP on their streets.

Remember, remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot.
We see no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!

Guy Fawkes, guy, t'was his intent
To blow up king and parliament.
Three score barrels were laid below
To prove old England's overthrow.

By god's mercy he was catch'd
With a darkened lantern and burning match.
So, holler boys, holler boys, Let the bells ring.
Holler boys, holler boys, God save the king.

And what shall we do with him?
Burn him!

Qs: I'm in the military and want to find the right type of observation

device. I'll be using the device to help identify objects at distances

of at least 3000m for extended periods of time (>3hrs). Monoculars are

smaller and lighter but I've heard that they are prone to eye fatigue

and are not as good for identifying small details at large issues. All

things being equal (power, optics, quality) is there a difference? Thanks.

A: Dear Don,

Thank you for your question. Being that a Binocular uses both eyes, you

should have a little better depth perception. And yes, with monoculars

you will get eye fatigue because you are using one eye and squinting the

other. My first suggestion there would be to cover one eye with your

hand or a patch instead of winking. The downside to the binocular is

that you generally do not get as much magnification, especially if you

plan to use it at 3000m. The most we have is about 20x-25x. Our ASTELE

60Zm starts at 40x and goes to 120. You would also want to use a tripod

on anything more than about 12x magnification. All things being equal,

you would probably like the image from a binocular better. I hope this

clears things up. Thank you.

Oh yeah, We've had a national day of thanksgiving since General Washington’s troops observed one at Valley Forge in 1777. As President, Washington observed a day of Thanksgiving in November of 1789. By tradition, the President of the United States is supposed to proclaim the day to set aside Thanksgiving, but congress recognized it officially in 1941.

I don’t know anything about Canada’s Thanksgiving holiday.

As for night vision, one person in a chat room pointed out that using a monocular viewer will cause eye fatigue, because the user will squint. He suggested putting an eye patch over the naked eye. He also pointed out that the monocular have higher magnification, so they’ll work best for the marksmen.

You asked a question about TV cameras and shooting around corners, I take that to mean the Land Warrior program, and the sister programs in competing and allied states.

Their debut into field-testing was long scheduled for October of this year, but has been moved back to limited field-testing in 2006. I understand the entire suits were still overweight by six pounds (2.7 kilograms), and that the Lithium/Ion batteries don’t power the components you’re interested in long enough- something like 150 minutes. That’s long enough for a hostage rescue, so I guess it’s ready for your purposes.

Another technology to look at is the Telepresent Rapid Aiming Platform (TRAP), also called the “Robo rifle,” that generated so much excitement a few years ago. Some law enforcement agents are boasting they can hit coins from a hundred meters with it.

Published by Typewriter King | 5:26 PM
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