Mourning Military Father Creates Robot to Save Soldiers

After losing his son in Iraq, Brian Hart created a special robotic defense machine to stop other parents from facing the same awful fate.

On October 18th, 2003, Massachusetts man Brian Hart received a phone call from his son, Army Pvt. First Class John Hart, who was stationed in Iraq. John didn’t feel like chatting about the weather or catching up on all the Red Sox games he’d missed out on during his time away: the call was a plea for help.

“He asked me to help him: ‘Get us body armor and vehicular armor,’” Brian Hart told CBS News. “He thought he’d be killed in an unarmored Humvee.”

Tragically, John’s prediction was entirely accurate. Exactly one week later, Hart answered a knock on the door at 6 AM to find an army colonel, a priest, and a police officer standing soberly before him. His 20-year-old son John had been killed in an ambush attack on his military vehicle, just as he’d feared.

Though John’s death was a shocking blow to Hart, he didn’t mourn his loss quietly. Instead, he created a blog dedicated to keeping such atrocities from happening again, and worked with Senator Ted Kennedy to protest the fact that soldiers were going to battle without proper armor.

Soon, mere protests weren’t enough for Hart, and he decided to take action in his son’s name. Three years ago, he founded Black-l Robotics Inc., a company that creates robotic vehicles that can disarm bombs and other explosives before soldiers can be harmed by them. Last month, Hart and his four employees won a $728,000 contract from the Pentagon to further develop their robotic devices for military use. All going well, Hart’s robots could be helping the soldiers in Iraq by next year.

Though the new technology will come about too late to help Hart’s son, he believes that the robotic devices could help thousands of other young soldiers survive ground warfare in Iraq - and help thousands of parents avoid that dreaded early-morning knock on the door.

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