New four-wheeled robot designed in Australia to battle poaching in Western Africa

Australian war vet Luke Townsend and Sri Lankan mechatronics lecturer Dr Gayan Kahandawa bring GUS to life


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Gipplsland, Victoria Australia (Commonwealth Union)_A four-wheeled robot will soon be forging new pathways in Western Africa to help save threatened animals hunted by poachers and may also be used to spot enemy soldiers in hostile environments.  The award-winning robot named GUS (Ground Unmanned System), designed on an idea developed by anti-poaching specialist and army veteran Luke Townsend, will replace park rangers who often face mortal danger when monitoring and facing poachers head-on in jungle environments. 

Luke Townsend on a test run with GUS

GUS is fitted with state- of- the art cameras, a drone and microphones and picks up human sounds due to sophisticated AI being added to its system.  Essentially designed as a scout to not engage or interact with poachers, GUS is an unmanned observation post which can be placed not just in poaching environments, but basically in any milieu that requires advance warning of adverse situations anywhere in the world. 

This could mean GUS could be put to military use as well, becoming the first point of contact between the enemy, rather the armed forces facing the enemy.  Well versed in tackling harsh conditions and rough environments, GUS only requires 10 liters of petrol to remain in a single location for a month. This also reduces expenditure spent on keeping human scouts in situ over long periods of time. GUS is billed as a life-saver for the army, literally, as it now reduces face to face combat in the first instance.

GUS the robot is equipped with cameras, microphones and a drone

When Townsend took his idea to Church Federation University’s Senior Mechatronics Lecturer Dr Gayan Kahandawa, building GUS became a project to save the world. Kahandawa added the idea of adding AI techniques that will help GUS recognize vision and human sounds with great accuracy.  Adding to the team was another Sri Lankan PhD student Hasitha Hewawasam who assisted with coding and software development.

GUS recently won an award for innovation at an international defense exhibition in Brisbane. Future models will be equipped with bullet proof armour but will also be made cheaply to avoid wasted investment in the event it is captured by enemies. 

GUS will be on its first mission in March 2023 in Benin with the hope that the numbers of rangers killed by poachers will reduce significantly.  The early warning system is a life saver and will hopefully be deployed in war zones too, sooner rather than later.

January 10, 2023


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