The Past and Future of Bomb Disposal Robots

The Past and Future of Bomb Disposal Robots

The Past of Bomb Disposal Robots

In the British army, one of the most undesirable jobs to do with the defense of the country is that of the ammunition technical officer. It is this man or woman’s duty to dismantle, defuse and dispose of any and all bomb threats the UK may face. Terrifying responsibility for a person, especially considering the fact that these people usually operate in fairly hostile environments anyway. That is why bomb disposal robots were developed, to make this admittedly crucial job easier for the individual.

A man named Peter Miller first invented this type of robot in 1971-2, the first one was called “the Wheelbarrow”. It was first considered necessary after eight different ammunition technical officers of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps all lost their lives to homemade bombs during the conflict with Northern Ireland. The Wheelbarrow was in fact partly a modification that Miller had made to his lawnmower.

The device was crafted out of the chassis of an electric wheelbarrow, a spring-loaded hook, and a remote-controlled device. It was designed to be able to safely remove any seemingly dangerous devices from an area without endangering any nearby civilians or police. Further down the road, Major Robert John Wilson Patterson contributed the addition of the “Pig Stick” which was a water jet disruptor, allowing the bot to not only transport bombs but also successfully defuse them. The Wheelbarrow has proven very effective in saving countless lives and being destroyed over 400 times.

The Future of Bomb Disposal Robots

Just this past September, the defense secretary at the time Sir Michael Fallon announced a £55 to £63 million contract, which aims to create up to 56 innovative bomb disposal robots for the UK to utilize. The chosen robot is the T7, which will be purchased from the United States robotics manufacturer Harris Robotics under the ministry of Defences Project Starter. These pricy bots will mainly be used to support UK EOD missions across the globe, along with this they will also assist in hazardous materials (HAZMAT) missions working to achieve chemical cleanups. Intelligence reconnaissance (ISR) will also likely be interested as their small and tactical nature could greatly assist them.

Officials are stating that due to the rises in the UK’s defense budget they are able to look at protection much more seriously and cautiously. Sir Michael stated, “with our rising defense budget, we are investing in the latest equipment for our Armed Forces to the growing threats we face”. Some features the T7 are likely to include are

  • High definition cameras
  • High-speed data links
  • An adjustable manipulation arm
  • A track system specially designed to cope with rough terrain

Obviously, we are not inside the company who is producing these bots and cannot guarantee these will be the only features. However. none of these confirmed features seem very high tech or futuristic and some will be questioning why more innovative technology is not incorporated.

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