Ministry of Defence paid millions of pounds for new and modern bomb disposal robots.
The UK always tries to be a step ahead of its enemies when it comes to military expertise and knowledge. The country has one of the biggest defense budgets and arguably one of the biggest and best militaries in the world. Therefore, they are bound to bring out new products with each passing day.
The Ministry of Defence recently signed a new contract with Florida based American firm, Harris Robotics. The Ministry signed the contract for £55 million to oversee the delivery of 56 of the T7 robots the company owns. The T7 robots are big yellow robots which are mostly used for bomb disposal. Up to now, the UK has been lagging in technology and equipment good enough to do the task of bomb disposal. Fortunately, with the new deal, from autumn 2018, the robots will be based in Brighton, the UK, able to be shipped to any part of the country where they might be needed.
The chief engineer at Harris Robotics, Paul Bosscher, said that the robots which the UK was used for bomb disposal was now old and they were due to a makeover. The Wheelbarrow Mark 8s were good during their time, but they had now passed their sell-by date according to Bosscher. The technology behind the Mark 8s was now obsolete, which is true considering they were first made in the 1970s. Therefore, Harris decided to come in and make the T7 robots.
The T7 is like all other bomb disposal robots, radio controlled. The controller of the robot, however, is different from others as it vibrates much better than other models making it more receptive. Therefore it gives the controller, the ability to feel the bomb as if they are the ones picking it up on their own. Bosscher said that this style had been experimented on before but had never been used in the field.
Harris built the T7 in the lab under field conditions but exclaimed that they had problems with adjusting the robot to the field. Bosscher said that the company tried to make sure that the robot could survive the harsh environment that it would be subjected to on the field. At the same time, they had to make sure that the robot would keep its communication with the controller at all times. They tried to minimize disconnecting as best as possible because even a one-second disconnection could prove fatal. After making all the necessary changes, the T7 robot can now disarm a bomb 20 percent faster than any other bomb disposal unit on the market.
Bosscher said that he hoped the T7 would have the same lifespan of the Wheelbarrow Mark 8. In order to do this, the T7 would have to adapt to new technology. Bosscher and co-managed to overcome this hurdle by giving the robot open architecture. This means the robots can be used to clean up hazardous waste or do surveillance tasks without being disassembled.