Bomb Disposal Robot Ready for Front Line
|With the bomb disposal robot are, from left, Waqar Amin (Knowledge Transfer Partnership Associate), Steve Wisbey (NIC Instruments) and Steve Woodhead (University of Greenwich).|
An innovative, remote-operated bomb disposal robot can be controlled by a wireless device — not unlike a games console — from a distance of several hundred meters. The robot, which can climb stairs and even open doors, will be used by security forces, including the British Army, on bomb disposal missions in countries such as Afghanistan.
Experts from the University of Greenwich’s Department of Computer & Communications Engineering are working on the project alongside NIC Instruments Limited of Folkestone, manufacturers of security search and bomb disposal equipment.
Much lighter and more flexible than traditional bomb disposal units, the robot is easier for soldiers to carry and use when out in the field. It has cameras on board, which relay images back to the operator via a hand-held control, and includes a versatile gripper which can carry and manipulate delicate items. The robot also includes nuclear, biological and chemical weapons sensors.
Measuring just 72 cm by 35 cm, it weighs 48 kilograms and can move at speeds of up to eight miles per hour.
The two-year collaboration between NIC Instruments and the University of Greenwich, known as a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, will run until September 2011. The main role provided by Greenwich was in lending NIC Instruments its expertise in electronic systems design and software engineering.
Steve Woodhead, Reader in Computer Systems & Networks within the university’s School of Engineering, said: “It’s great to be able to employ our specialist knowledge to support a small manufacturing company in its next stage of development, as well as producing a vital security product.”
Key customers for the finished product are expected to include the defense and security forces of several EU countries. On the completion of the partnership, NIC Instruments predicts that its annual turnover will double within two to three years.
Steve Wisbey, the organization’s Managing Director, said: “The partnership with the University of Greenwich has allowed us to expand our technology base considerably in a highly compressed timescale. We are now exploring way of extending our partnership, as other security projects between us are already under way.”
The university’s Greenwich Research & Enterprise office, which was instrumental in setting up the Knowledge Transfer Partnership, was shortlisted for a Times Higher Education magazine award in 2010 for Outstanding Research Management Team.