The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has awarded a contract to QinetiQ for the provision of 100 Dragon Runner robots to help forces in Afghanistan deal with dangerous jobs such as disarming roadside bombs.

The lightweight, rugged and easy-to-operate Dragon Runner is a military robot specifically designed for urban combat, which can be easily carried by a soldier in a backpack and can be configured according to the field requirements.

The robot has been fitted with a manipulator arm to help in disarming improvised explosive devices and can also be configured for a variety of other reconnaissance and surveillance operations.

Dragon Runner can communicate with the operator by sending video footage from a safe distance allowing troops to study the situation before entering the battlefield.

The robot can travel over rough terrain, climb stairs and open doors while moving at a speed of 5mph and can be operated in sewers, drainpipes, caves and courtyards to detect danger.

Additional mission capabilities of the Dragon Runner include perimeter security, checkpoint security and the inspection of suspect vehicles.

The initial £12m contract also includes the provision of spare parts and technical services.