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Need A Hand? These Advanced New Bomb Disposal Robots Can Help With That
There was a pretty clear theme at this year’s Office of Naval Research Tech Expo in Washington, D.C. on July 20: Robots and lots of them. Big ones, small ones; drones that fly, some that swim, and at least one that did both; and a few bots that could probably kick ass in an arm wrestling competition.
But some of the most impressive robots at the expo were focused on an important task: bomb disposal. Among the rigs on display was the Highly Dexterous Manipulation System, a bomb disposal platform from RE2 Robotics now in its fourth iteration:
The Highly Dexterous Manipulation System from RE2 Robotics is able to expertly manipulate small objects, making it ideal for explosive ordnance disposal.Task & Purpose photo by James Clark
The HDMS isn’t so much a robot as an extension of its operator. The bot has a pair robotic arms and a moveable humanoid torso, which allow it to mimic a person’s full range of upper-body motion with far greater strength.
“It can do what humans can do, but on top of that, can lift 110 pounds close-in,” can drag and pull items, and lift or manipulate light objects when its arms are fully extended, RE2 Robotics production and engineering coordinator Aaron Nicely told Task & Purpose.
While the system was designed to serve as an explosive ordnance disposal bomb bot, it can also be mounted on other platforms to function in a range of roles — think manufacturing and healthcare — so long as power and an ethernet cable are available. And unlike some legacy EOD robots, which are usually manipulated through the toggles and switches of a military-grade Xbox controller, the HDMS has a highly intuitive control system, which enables the user to manipulate objects with a great deal of finesse, from stacking blocks, to unwrapping a peppermint:
The Highly Dexterous Manipulation System from RE2 Robotics shows off by unwrapping a peppermint candy at the Office of Naval Research Tech Expo in Washington, D.C. on July 20.Task & Purpose photo by James Clark
But the HDMS wasn’t the only advanced bomb bot at the ONR expo, nor was it the only robot to set a high bar for coordination and graceful movement. The new arms for the Advanced EOD Robotic System look like they were ripped straight from Star Wars.
The Advanced EOD Robotic System, developed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, offers an incredible degree of control for EOD techs and was on display at the Office of Naval Research Tech Expo in Washington, D.C., on July 20.Task & Purpose photo by James Clark
Developed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, the skeletal arms allow for a full range of motion, and an extremely fine level of control, which makes it a great fit for deadly operations EOD where precision is key, Geoffrey Osier of Johns Hopkins, told Task & Purpose.
The AEODRS is an open-architecture system, which means it can be easily upgraded with custom software and other emerging technologies as they become available. The system can also function autonomously, observe, and then contextualize data. At the expo, as attendants walked past the booth, an AEODRS video camera promptly identified them as “people" on a nearby monitor
The value of this, Osier explained, is that instead of just recording a massive amount of data and dumping it into a tech’s lap, the system determines what it’s seeing and identifies patterns, which allows a user to note changes in that environment — say, if a car or crate, or some other object appears or disappears. The ability to track such minor changes in a place where troops are operating could mean getting a heads up that something is awry.
The HDMS and AEODRS are both impressive examples of how EOD robots come in recent years, but don’t worry too much about their breathtaking sophistication. They’re not self aware — yet.
For one veteran who fought through the crossfires of German heavy machine guns in the D-Day landings, receiving a Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of his service and that of his World War II comrades would be "quite meaningful."
Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to award the Army Rangers of World War II the medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed confidence on Sunday in the U.S. military justice system's ability to hold troops to account, two days after President Donald Trump pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.
Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.
Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."
"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.
On a military base, a black flag is bad news. That means it's too hot outside to do anything strenuous, so training and missions are put off until conditions improve.
As the climate changes, there could be plenty more black flag days ahead, especially in Florida, a new analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists found. America's military bases could see an average of an extra month of dangerously hot days by mid-century. In Florida, they could quadruple.
Pentagon data shows heat-related illnesses and injuries are on the rise in every branch of the military. Last year, nearly 2,800 troops suffered heatstroke or heat exhaustion, a roughly 50 percent jump from 2014.
"I think most of us, if we hear there are tens of thousands of cases of heat stress in our troops every year, our minds would go to where they were deployed," said Kristy Dahl, a senior climate scientist at UCS and the lead author of the study. "But more than 90% of the military cases of heatstroke happened right here at home."
BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States and South Korea said on Sunday they will postpone upcoming military drills in an effort to bolster a stalled peace push with North Korea, even as Washington denied the move amounted to another concession to Pyongyang.
The drills, known as the Combined Flying Training Event, would have simulated air combat scenarios and involved an undisclosed number of warplanes from both the United States and South Korea.
An opening ceremony will be held Monday on Hawaii island for a military exercise with China that will involve about 100 People's Liberation Army soldiers training alongside U.S. Army counterparts.
This comes after Adm. Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, spoke on Veterans Day at Punchbowl cemetery about the "rules-based international order" that followed U.S. victory in the Pacific in World War II, and China's attempts to usurp it.
Those American standards "are even more important today," Davidson said, "as malicious actors like the Communist Party of China seek to redefine the international order through corruption, malign cyber activities, intellectual property theft, restriction of individual liberties, military coercion and the direct attempts to override other nations' sovereignty."