The British Army is about to get an impressive new explosive ordnance disposal robot that’s able to climb stairs, negotiate slopes of more than 40 degrees, and … oh, yes, diffuse bombs, too.
The T7 robot is not autonomous, but is rather radio controlled by a human operator. One of its most promising features is its haptic feedback capabilities, which allows the operator to accurately feel what they are doing when they use the T7’s robotic arm to unpick a bomb fuse.
The Harris Corporation’s T7 robot reportedly passed the initial qualifying tests in July. This “all-encompassing battery” of challenges, included coping with extreme temperatures and working in situations involving blowing sand and rain, humidity, vibration, and electromagnetic interference. It is now set to carry out more advanced trials later this year, as part of the U.K. Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Project Starter program. Harris revealed the news at the annual Association of the United States Army (AUSA) exhibition in Washington, D.C. this week.
“T7’s selection by the MoD represents the first of many opportunities for Harris to deliver lifesaving technology to warfighters and law enforcement personnel worldwide,” Ed Zoiss, president of Harris Electronic Systems, said in a statement.
The T7 robot tips the scales at 710 pounds, making it a heavy piece of machinery. The MoD has reportedly agreed to acquire 56 of the robots as part of a contract valued at $73 million. The goal is to find technology that can assist service personnel and first responders by taking away some of the most dangerous tasks — such as bomb disposal — from human operators. The MoD hopes to get the robots out in the field as soon as 2020. In the future, the Harris Corporation aims to also sell the T7 robots to the U.S. Army for its U.S. Army’s Common Robotic System-Heavy requirement.
From snake robots designed to help decommission nuclear power plants to robots capable of assisting firefighters in blazes, there are plenty of robot projects we have covered that are designed to wade into risky scenarios that most would be afraid to. T7 is a reminder that there is plenty more innovation to come.