Smarter bomb bot

July 14, 2001 | Source: KurzweilAI

A wheeled police robot that makes many tactical decisions on its own during potentially dangerous bomb-disablement or other law enforcement missions has been unveiled by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories.

Police robot carries a mock suitcase<br />
bomb down a hallway

Police robot carries a mock suitcase
bomb down a hallway


The Wolverine robot hardware was developed at Northrop Grumman’s REMOTEC unit; Sandia Labs added software.

The Wolverine now incorporates some of the most challenging and commonly needed robotic tools and behaviors in police work, such as automatic tool changes, tool placement, and bomb-disrupter aiming, as well as telerobotic straight-line movement in all directions.

During a demonstration in March at the FBI Hazardous Devices School, the SMART-modified Wolverine shaved minutes off typical bomb responses even with the most skilled FBI robot operators.

Possible new technologies to be added could include path planning, machine vision, proximity sensing, obstacle avoidance, visual targeting, reachability analysis, and automatic calibration.

Sandia project leader Phil Bennett believes SMART-based mobile robots could be useful in such areas as emergency response (to clean up a chemical spill, for instance), facility security (to patrol perimeters or respond to an attack), nuclear reactor accident response (to turn on or off a safety valve), combat engineering (to breach barriers, lay razor wire, or remove or emplace an object and get out), urban warfare (to punch access holes in walls or assist the injured), and space exploration (using Earth-supervised robotic manipulators to repair satellites in space, for example).