An innovative remote-controlled robot could soon be joining the British Army on bomb disposal missions.
The University of Greenwich has teamed up with Folkestone-based company NIC Instruments, which manufactures security search and bomb disposal equipment, to design and manufacture the bomb disposal robot.
They say the lightweight robot, which can be controlled by a wireless device from a distance of several hundred metres and can even climb stairs and open doors, could be very useful for defence and security forces.
Dr Steve Woodhead of the university’s Computer & Communications Engineering department said: “It’s great to be able to employ our specialist knowledge to support a small manufacturing company in its next stage of development, as well as producing a vital security product.”
Weighing just 48 kilograms and measuring 72cm by 35cm, the robot has a top speed of eight miles per hour and can be easily carried by soldiers to be used out in the field.
The robot has cameras on board, which relay images back to the operator via the hand-held control, and includes a versatile gripper which can carry and manipulate delicate items. It also includes nuclear, biological and chemical weapons sensors.
The university and company are collaborating on a two-year Knowledge Transfer Partnership, with Greenwich providing NIC with expertise in electronic systems design and software engineering.
Managing director of NIC Instruments Steve Wisbey said: “The partnership with the University of Greenwich has allowed us to expand our technology base considerably in a highly compressed timescale.
"We are now exploring ways of extending our partnership, as other security projects between us are already under way."
The company predicts that its annual turnover will double within two to three years as it expects orders for the finished product to pour in from defence and security forces of several EU countries.