Photo: Army Spc. Ryan Hallock)

Unmanned Systems

The next generation of bomb disposal robots

Using robots to help dispose of bombs is nothing new for the military. The Office of Naval Research, however, wants an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD)  "technician" with more dexterity and increased awareness.

ONR is looking for improvements in three areas: the manipulators or arms, the effectors or hands, and the sensors the robot uses to understand what it is handling. The robot technician must be able to detect, locate, access, identify, render-safe and recover explosive threats from both land and underwater environments.

The dual manipulators must work together to perform tasks that require a high level of dexterity. For the effectors, ONR wants the robot to be able to feel its environment --  to “interpret and visualize the shape and texture of an explosive threat or object when external sensors are not available,” according to the broad agency announcement. ONR also wants the effectors to be able to notice any changes in the weight or temperature of the package it is handling.

These capabilities must be available where there might not be any GPS and where the object is hidden from view, the BAA said. 

“The desired outcomes are EOD robotic systems and subsystems that machine learn through on-board sensors and processing and team and co-learn with humans,” the BAA said.

There is an expected pool of $8 million available under the BAA. White papers are due by July 13.

Read the full BAA here.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at mleonard@gcn.com or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.


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