U.S. Army scientists have launched an experiment to develop a new compact robot that’s capable of detecting chemical, biological and other deadly agents from a safe distance.
The new variant of the PackBot 510 robot is designed to give soldiers with the 2nd Infantry Division’s 23rd Chemical Battalion in Korea enhanced chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives detection which includes a remote, first-look capability in underground facilities, according to a recent Army press release.
“These robots are one-of-a-kind and filled a critical gap for soldiers on the front lines in Korea,” said Lt. Col. Mark Meeker, field assistance in science and technology advisor assigned to U.S. Forces Korea.
The year-long experiment involves several commands including Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, or RDECOM, and the Rapid Equipping Force.
RDECOM’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center built a prototype robot, and IRobot began exploring tunnel training areas in South Korea, the release states. The REF funded the project to modify the 2nd ID’s existing PackBot 510s.
The robots arrived at Camp Stanley in November 2015 and the 501st Chemical Company tested them in several scenarios, according to the release.
“We conducted a technical demonstration at the 2nd Infantry Division’s Micro Experiment; once they saw the technology, they were completely on board,” said RDECOM-Pacific science advisor Richard Moore.