This article was written by Alex Hollings and originally published on Sandboxx.

The U.S. Army Research Lab recently paired a human soldier with a battlefield robot in the first real-world demonstration of how robots can give American troops the edge in a 21st-century fight.

The new Army robot being tested as a sort of battle-buddy can sense small changes in a soldier’s environment that may indicate a threat. Those subtle changes are then relayed to the soldier’s eyeglasses, using state-of-the-art augmented reality to display the information in a quick and easily digestible way.

“This could let robots inform their Soldier teammates of changes in the environment that might be overlooked by or not perceptible to the Soldier, giving them increased situational awareness and offset from potential adversaries,” said Dr. Christopher Reardon, a researcher at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory.

“This could detect anything from camouflaged enemy soldiers to IEDs.”

The idea behind the Army’s newest robot is pretty simple. Researchers took a small, autonomous ground robot and equipped it with a variety of (LIDAR) laser-ranging sensors. Using those sensors, the robot is able to build a virtual representation of the environment the robot and soldier occupy. That baseline environment is then constantly compared to the real-time data flowing through the robot’s sensors. When something in the environment changes, the robot identifies the change and transmits the data to the soldier’s glasses, where the changes are visible in a 3D augmented reality view of the environment.

“Incorporating mixed reality into Soldiers’ eye protection is inevitable,” Reardon said. “This research aims to fill gaps by incorporating useful information from robot teammates into the Soldier-worn visual augmentation ecosystem, while simultaneously making the robots better teammates to the Soldier.”

In other words, the nearby robot is constantly scanning the area, and when something changes — whether it’s a nearby enemy combatant adjusting his footing or moving the leaves on a bush — that change is highlighted visibly in the soldier’s field of view (thanks to the system glasses). This will allow troops to immediately identify hidden threats in their environment.