NSW robots train US Marines to hit targets

Sydney-based Marathon Targets have designed and built eight robots to train U.S. soldiers in live firing exercises.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Stoner announced yesterday that a squad of crack NSW robots has been shipped to the U.S.A to help train Marine Corps in marksmanship.

Mr Stoner said the eight robots are free-ranging, armour-plated and networked robots programmed to mimic human behaviour to provide a realistic, challenging and interactive training scenario for marksmen.

“The robots can run day and night in all weather conditions and have the ability to turn on the spot, change direction, navigate buildings, avoid obstacles, and even duck for cover when fired upon,” he said.

The NSW robots have been assessed and endorsed by the US Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) program, which tests market-ready technologies with potential to support US defence requirements. 

“The first eight robots have now been shipped to Quantico in Virginia, the site of one of the largest US Marine Corps bases in the world, where they will be used for formal marksmanship training, with the potential for further sales,” Mr Stoner said. 

“As a result of the FCT endorsement, Marathon Targets not only has a green light to sell its robots to the US Marine Corps but can also sell to other US agencies with an interest in marksmanship training, including the military, special forces and law enforcement groups. 

“Marathon Targets has developed a two-wheel version of its robots called the T20 as well as a four-wheel version called the T40 for rougher off-road terrain.” 

Marathon Robotics received funding through NSW Trade & Investment’s Global Growth Program and Australian Technology Showcase.

Last year the company won a A$57 million contract with the U.S Marine Corps Systems Command to trial its advanced robot technology.

It also won the NSW Government’s major $50,000 innovation award at Tech23 last year, which assisted its expansion to a new Marrickville factory headquarters.

Marathon Targets makes smart targets for live-fire training. The company’s target robots are said to enable armed forces to train with an unprecedented level of realism. Autonomous operation in the robots is reportedly achieved through by cutting-edge robotic technology and scalable system architecture.

The company was founded by three PhDs from the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney. Over the past eight years, the company has collaborated with the Australian Defence Force to design and build technology required for improving moving marksmanship.

The company’s first smart target system was deployed on a range in Western Australia in 2008.

Marathon Targets has offices in Sydney, Australia, Huntsville, Alabama, and a European office in Toulouse, France.