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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.
An Austrian soldier was apparently killed by two military working dogs that he was charged with feeding, the Austrian Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday.
She's photographed every major war of the last 20 years. Marine Corps boot camp was something else entirely
Conflict photographer Lynsey Addario has seen a hell of a lot of combat over the past twenty years. She patrolled Afghanistan's Helmand Province with the Marines, accompanied the Army on night raids in Baghdad, took artillery fire with rebel fighters in Libya, and has taken photos in countless other wars and humanitarian disasters around the world.
Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.
The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.
Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.
Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
My brother earned the Medal of Honor for saving countless lives — but only after he was left for dead
"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.
They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.
As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.
But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.
Federal court judge Reggie Walton in Washington D.C. has ruled Hoda Muthana, a young woman who left her family in Hoover, Alabama, to join ISIS, is not a U.S. citizen, her attorneys told AL.com Thursday.
The ruling means the government does not recognize her a citizen of the United States, even though she was born in the U.S.
MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The Marine Corps could train as many as eight co-ed companies at boot camp each year, and the general overseeing the effort is hitting back against those complaining that the move is lowering training standards.
"Get over it," Maj. Gen. William Mullen, the head of Training and Education Command told Military.com on Thursday. "We're still making Marines like we used to. That has not changed."
Mullen, a career infantry officer who has led troops in combat — including in Fallujah, Iraq — said Marines have likely been complaining about falling standards since 1775.
"I'm assuming that the second Marine walking into Tun Tavern was like 'You know ... our standards have gone down. They're just not the same as it they used to be,'" Mullen said, referring to the service's famous birthplace. "That has always been going on in the history of the Marine Corps."