Playdate for the Pentagon

In a quest to make troops safer, the military invites companies to show off their latest, greatest gizmos

The small, unmanned vehicle barreled on minitank tracks across the tarmac, looking more like a playground toy than a sophisticated and lethal weapon of war. But as its six high-powered cameras and thermal-imaging night sight scanned the crowd and its menacing M-249 machine gun turned in search of targets, soldiers and civilians nervously scattered out of its path, just in case.

A few hundred feet away, hidden inside a trade-show booth, operator Bob Quinn chuckled as he sat in front of a small remote-control box. His Talon robot, a product of the engineering firm Foster-Miller, wasn't on an actual battlefield mission....

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