Autonomous Robots for Live Fire Training
Autonomous robots solve a fundamental training gap of all militaries: the only time they perform live fire training with realistic moving targets – is in actual combat.
Marathon eliminates this fatal gap with AI-driven, armored, autonomous robotic humanoids that look, move, and even behave like people.
See Robots in Action
Over a Decade of Training
Marathon deployed the world’s-first autonomous tactical training robots in September 2008. Since then we have built a track record of continuous innovation and training excellence.
miles of autonomous driving under fire
Customers on Four Continents
US Marine Corps, US Army, US Navy, US Air Force, Canadian Forces, Australian Defence Force, UAE Presidential Guard, Slovenian Army, Bundeswehr, Poland’s Territorial Defense Force, and others.
Our customers are a critical part of ‘our team’ – it is they who make us better with their ideas and suggestions. Over 90% of our new features are customer suggestions. We never stop listening to end users. They have made the robots better and better with each new generation.
“A vast improvement to training modality over existing systems, and was value-added in all training events/scenarios.”USMC End User Evaluation of 5,000+ shooters, quoted in FY 22 NDAA
Autonomy is the enabling technology which brings the robots to life. A single operator can safely control dozens of robots, even at long range and out of sight.
Marathon’s AI-driven robots drive autonomously across the entire range, are always aware of their surroundings, and communicate with each other to synthesize a convincing and challenging tactical environment. Robots never leave their movement box, so won’t draw fire outside the SDZ. They utilize precision autonomous navigation and collision avoidance.
Our military end users have tripled lethality in just one day by training against a Robotic OPFOR – a thinking, adaptive, and unpredictable enemy force.
Live fire is transformed from a static ‘marksmanship exercise’ to a ‘decision-making exercise’ under the stress and chaos of a firefight.’’
“The Marathon argument is very persuasive – its challenge is to change a mindset, present for many centuries, that the aim of the range is to ‘train marksmanship.’ That mentality is wrong: overmatch and ‘winning the firefight’ are more important.”Shepard Defence (2021)
Zero Infrastructure Range Modernization (ZIRM)
ZIRM enables the ‘Range of the Future’ – today.
Ranges can be modernized overnight instead of over years. Even an open field can be converted into a state-of-the-art range in hours. The US Marine Corps at Camp Lejeune conceived this approach and certified its first ZIRM range in December 2020; the second in 2021, and more are on the way.
The robots pay for themselves many times over with massive cost avoidance from ZIRM. How? By eliminating the 5 to 10 years to construct fixed infrastructure, and all the associated range O&M costs.
Robots can be either purchased or rented through TaaS. Most of our customers chose the benefits of TaaS:
- Funded annually with O&M funds
- Sustainability tail included: no requirement to stock/track/install spare parts
- No configuration management or equipment on inventory accounts
- Includes hardware and software upgrades
- Full turn key service from our value-added robot operators
- If someone else builds a better robot – it’s easy to switch vendors
Whether you need robots for a day, a week, quarterly, or 24/7, we can make it happen.
Highly-Trained Robot Operators
Just as important as the robots are the trained operators who run them. Over 90% of our robot operators are military veterans, most with combat experience. They can safely convert the trainer’s intent into high-stress scenarios that provide stress inoculation.
Entirely New Ways to Train
Autonomous robots enable entirely new training modes:
Live Fire Robotic OPFOR
Train against a thinking, adaptive, unpredictable, intelligent robotic opposing force.
Live Fire Blue Force
Robotic blue force for overhead fires, restricted fire line, and other “impossible training” (activities which are traditionally performed for the first time in combat because they’re too dangerous to train with real blue force).
Robotic Role Players
Pattern of life with possible escalation to live fire. Can operate 24/7.
Robots can be used with UTM, SESAMS, man-markers and other non-lethal ammunition.
Robotic Laser Engagement
Robots can be used with MILES, MCTIS, etc.
Robotic LVC Integration
Robots can be replicated in the virtual world to allow live training in coordination with virtual indirect fires, CAS, sniper support, etc.
Test and Evaluation
Robots do precisely & repeatedly as they’re told, which is useful for conducting experiments. Robots have been used to test TTP’s for personnel as well as performance of body armor, weapons, optics, deployable UGVs, non-lethal devices, and other equipment.
Emulate Conventional Targets
Can behave as static targets, pop-up targets, and moving targets (including true unknown-distance movers).
Realistic Hit Reactions
Robots flinch and groan when wounded, and shriek and fall when “killed”. Separate hit zones can even simulate adversaries with body arrmor.
“Fast and unpredictable enough to rock the most experienced marksmen on their heels” that provide “a convincing enemy force that can leave troops dry-mouthed when they charge a shooter”military.com (2019)
Comprehensive Product Family
Marathon offers a full line of intelligent training robots – outdoor robots, indoor robots, and vehicle robots – to cover all requirements for realistic live-fire training. All robot models interoperate and are designed to be complementary in terms of range types and training requirements. All robots use the same communication equipment and are operated through the same command & control user interface.
Realistic Multi-Spectral Signature
The realistic 3D mannequins are augmented with
- Light: muzzle-flash to simulate shoot-back
- Thermal: active thermal signature for night fighting
- Acoustic: robots can scream, yell, and curse at you in any language
“Marathon targets are the first real innovation in live fire law enforcement firearms training in 100 years. With their inbuilt artificial intelligence and programmability, the robotic target provides the trainer with a realistic humanoid target that not only moves but also responds realistically to the current situation.”Senior firearms instructor, LE, UAE
Reactive Human-Like Behaviors
Marathon robots are reactive which makes live-fire training realistic and challenging. Shoot one robot and the rest scatter for cover – or self-organize an autonomous counterattack.
Marathon’s patented reactive behavior system is based on scenarios, or scripts, which describe what the robots are supposed to be doing during training. The scenarios are created by trained end users using an intuitive graphical interface.
“From a tactical standpoint these robots are great because they react in a far less predictable manner than target lifters; this forces the students to use fire commands to engage a moving target”CPT, US Army
Large System Scalability
Autonomy allows a single operator to control dozens of robots which work as a coordinated team.
Marathon autonomous robots have been employed on hundreds of live fire ranges around the world.
Outdoor robot models have powerful four-wheel drive and can operate in field environments and terrain such as grass, dirt, mud, gravel, rocks, pavement, sand and snow. They are robust and powerful enough to penetrate light vegetation.
Examples: field firing ranges, classification ranges, high elevation ranges, ambush ranges.
Outdoor robot models easily navigate built-up environments with buildings, fences, streets, gates, doorways, windows, sign posts, tunnels, etc. Indoor robots are often placed inside buildings, including multi-level and rooftops. Combinations of indoor and outdoor areas are readily supported.
Examples: villages, towns, cities, CONEX, mud brick, facades.
Dedicated indoor robots are perfectly suited for all types of indoor ranges. Outdoor robots can be used in larger indoor spaces. Robots can operate on different levels of multi-storey buildings and on rooftops.
Examples: Indoor ranges, including 270 and 360, baffle ranges, shoot houses.
Our robots have performed in most climatic zones: from Scandinavia to Tasmania, from Okinawa to the Middle East to Hawaii.
Day and Night
Marathon robots work equally well in brilliant sunlight, twilight, low light and no light.
“[The robots] enhanced the activity enormously. The soldiers engaging the targets told me they felt real fear when the robots first presented, moved and assaulted them. We have not been able to elicit fear, and condition soldiers to respond to fear, during close combatant live fire activities to this point. It is a massive step forward.”LTCOL Australian Army