Although it may seem like robots are slowly taking over the work force, when it comes to dangerous occupations, we’re happy to relinquish control. Bomb disposal is one such job that would benefit from machine assistance, and the U.S. Navy is taking note.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) divers are often at risk identifying dangerous devices in watery environments such as bridges, piers, and vessels. To keep these individuals out of harm’s way, RE2 Robotics is currently working with the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) to develop a pair of inflatable robot arms called the Underwater Dual Manipulator system. This machine is designed to dismantle improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that are located in underwater locations where ordinary bomb-defusing equipment cannot function.
Due to the submerged environment, the robot’s inner and outer components are made of soft materials. The robotic arms will work in concert with an existing Navy Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV), which will enable remote control from above the water’s surface. For reference, below you can view a sketch of the robot’s early concept design.
“Historically, we have developed manipulation systems for EOD ground robots,” says Jorgen Pedersen, president and CEO of RE2 Robotics. “By extending our manipulation capabilities into the submersible space, we are able to enter new markets, such as Offshore Oil and Gas, which rely on the safe inspection, maintenance, and repair of underwater structures. Providing dexterous manipulation capabilities to this class of UUVs will open up a new realm of capabilities and applications for unmanned systems.”
The project has recently moved onto Phase II, which includes constructing a prototype device, integrating the prototype with an existing UUV, and conducting controlled underwater tests.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense