US defence contractor Harris has delivered the first four advanced bomb disposal robots to the British Army.
The company made the delivery as part of a £55m contract with the British Army for the supply of 56 robots.
The contract was awarded under Project Starter to support explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams and the new robots replace the existing Wheelbarrow Mk8B remote-controlled EOD robots.
Equipped with high-definition cameras, datalinks, and an adjustable manipulation arm, Harris T7 unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) has the ability to mitigate and neutralise explosive threats.
The robots were subjected to several tests prior to delivery during an eight-week ‘acceptance’ trials period at UK and US sites.
The trials involved multi-terrain driving, battlefield missions, weightlifting and dexterity tasks, climatic and vibration testing, high-stress capabilities, live-firings, maximum traversing angles and interoperability assessments.
UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “These robots will go on to be an essential piece of kit, preventing harm to innocent civilians and the brave operators who make explosives safe.
“The robots will provide the army with the latest bomb-disposal technology and will prove to be trusted companions both on UK streets and in deadly conflict zones.”
Harris has incorporated ‘advanced haptic feedback’ in the robots to enable operators to ‘feel’ the bomb diffusing process and better deal with threats such as roadside bombs.
The haptic feedback function allows operators to have human-like dexterity while they operate the robot’s arm using the remote-control handgrip. The unit gives physical feedback to guide the operator.
The British Army expects to receive all 56 robots and place them in service by December 2020.
Defence EOD & Search Branch head Col Zac Scott said: “The Harris T7 harnesses cutting-edge technology to provide EOD operators with unprecedented levels of mobility and dexterity. It represents a step-change in capability for our service personnel and it will save lives.”