How Military Robots Work

Big Bots: ACER

Armored Combat Engineer Robot (ACER)
Armored Combat Engineer Robot (ACER)
Photo courtesy Mesa Robotics

Larger military robots are basically trucks or tanks with computers in them, operated by remote control.


ACER is another robot made by Mesa Robotics. This robot is about the size of a small bulldozer or a Zamboni.

ACER can handle many heavy-duty tasks, such as clearing out explosives with a mechanical arm, clearing and cutting obstacles down with a plow blade or a giant cutter, pulling disabled vehicles (up to and including buses), hauling cargo in a trailer and serving as a weapons platform. This robot can roll along with a mine-sweeper attached to the front, clearing a field of anti-personnel mines before any humans have to walk there.

Three of ACER's possible configurations Three of ACER's possible configurations
Three of ACER's possible configurations

One of ACER's more innovative uses is as a firefighting/decontamination platform. Equipped with a pan-and-tilt nozzle, ACER can pull its own supply of foam retardant or decontaminant in a 350-gallon (1,325-liter) tank. A nozzle can also be mounted on a mechanical arm for very precise aiming.

Photo courtesy Mesa Robotics

Obviously, ACER is not man-portable -- it weighs 4,500 lbs (2,040 kg). This heavy-duty robot has a maximum speed of 6.3 mph (10 kph) and runs on a diesel engine. The fuel tank holds 19 gallons (72 liters). For complete ACER specifications and features, see Mesa Robotics: ACER.