Detect and diffuse – The top 5 military robots for explosive ordnance disposal
From the 510 PackBot to the Dragon Runner, Army-technology.com lists the top five tried and tested Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) robots deployed by major armed forces across the world.
The iRobot 510 PackBot from iRobot Corporation is a rugged robot that holds multiple and heavy payloads while executing non-destructive inspection and detection of explosives or bombs. More than 4,500 PackBots are in service with military and civil defence forces across the world, 2,000 of which are on duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The iRobot 510 PackBot can be easily stowed into a MOLLE pack. It has the capacity to lift up to 13.6kg of weight and can run at a speed of 9.3km/h on rough terrain in urban environments during all weather conditions. The two BB-2590/U lithium-ion rechargeable batteries aboard the PackBot ensure a runtime of over four hours. The robot uses digital radio and two-way audio for communications.
The modular design of the PackBot accepts a range of payloads and accessories for variety of missions. The base configuration includes on-board computer, eight payload bays, Global Positioning System (GPS), Compass, Accelerometers, Inclinometer, and dismounted firing circuit. The robot can be fitted with 3-link manipulator arm or Small Arm Manipulator (SAM).
The TALON family of robots from QinetiQ North America are widely deployed across the world in IED and EOD, reconnaissance, communications, CBRNE, security, heavy lift, defence and rescue operations. The battle-tested robots have earned a reputation for high performance in military, law enforcement and first responder missions.
More than 4,000 TALON robots have been delivered to customers since its induction in 2000. The capabilities of TALON were successfully proved in rescue missions at Ground Zero after the 2001 World Trade Centre attack and during EOD missions in Iraq.
The standard TALON robot weighs up to 52kg based on the mission profile. It is equipped with a heavy lift arm with 360° rotatable gripper. The payload includes three infrared illuminated cameras, a colour zoom camera, optional cameras, and a Q-Tray. The two, 300W-hr, 36V batteries ensure a typical run time of three hours. The TALON has a maximum speed of 8.37km/h and its digital radio communications allow operations up to a distance of 800m.
The Andros range of military robots are produced by Remotec, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman. Over 1,000 Andros robots are in operation across the world, to counter evolving threats such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Andros is available in F6, Titus and HD versions.
The Andros family of robots can be integrated with a moulded front-drive plate housing microphone, speaker, drive camera, firing circuits and LED illumination. The manipulator arm with 360º rotatable gripper is fitted with a colour camera with low light switching, extra low light colour camera and front/rear drive cameras.
The robot is controlled using a hand portable Tac-1 operator control unit which presents vehicle course, data from on-board sensors, and errors and failures of joints. The digital radio link communications ensure a maximum operating range of 1,000m, while the 36V battery power source provides a maximum mission time of up to six hours.
The tEODor (telerob Explosive Ordnance Disposal and observation robot) is used by bomb disposal units across the world. More than 450 tEODor units are deployed in 41 countries including 20 NATO countries.
The tEODor is an innovative bomb disposal system integrating programmable six-axis manipulator, firing systems, built-in diagnostic system and storage space for additional EOD systems. The robot can be fitted with up to 40 systems and devices to support a variety of missions.
The twin-track robot is controlled by radio or via a 200m fibre optic cable, and can run at a maximum speed of 3km/h. The vision system includes two drive cameras, an overview camera, a gripper camera and optional night vision or infrared cameras.
Dragon Runner is a lightweight, back-packable, all-terrain robot capable of assisting bomb disposal units to detect and dispose IEDs and bombs. It is available in small and micro versions, known as Dragon Runner 20 and Dragon Runner 10.
Originally designed for the US Marine Corps (USMC), Dragon Runner 20 currently supports UK and Australian military missions as well as US military and first responder missions. The robots are deployed by British Army in Afghanistan in support of Explosive Ordnance disposal (EOD) activity.
The modular and reconfigurable robot is perfectly suitable for a range of military missions, even in congested urban areas. It can be fitted with a manipulator arm which can dig up, lift and move suspicious objects. It can also place small explosive charges. The Dragon Runner is fitted with day-night cameras, pan/tilt/zoom cameras, and motion detectors. It can transmit video footage back to the operator within the radio frequency range of over 650m.