Bouncing little robots aid the US police and military

Toilet roll shaped robots help in sticky situations

Picture the scene: you're merrily walking along minding your own business when suddenly you're apprehended by a bunch of tiny bouncing police robots. Worse still the blighters look unnervingly like toilet rolls. Sounds like a disturbing image of some robotic new world doesn't it? Well, disturbing or not, the vision of bossy little bog rolls could be closer than you think.

Tiny robots that jump and roll around and are "shaped like toilet rolls" (for what reason we don't know) are at this very moment being developed by the US police and military to spy on suspects in dangerous situations.

Students at the University of Minnesota are developing the robots which measure about four centimetres in diameter and are designed to scout around buildings. They can even jump up stairs to locate a dangerous criminal.

These cheeky little so-and-sos are fully functional, with in-built cameras, microphones and motion sensors and can even communicate with one-another via radio.

They can see you... Read about how and why in Surveillance , a ZDNet News Special