DARPA-Funded Robot Gives Troops a Helping Hand Dismantling Explosives
By Elizabeth Fish
Bomb disposal units in areas with conflict have an extremely risky job removing or disabling life-threatening devices from wherever they may be. One day, troops may no longer have to completely risk their lives to rid their area of explosives, thanks to a robotic hand.
The Sandia Hand by Sandia National Laboratories is an impressive piece of kit for a troop to own. This hand will reach down and destroy or disable a bomb so a human doesn’t have to–you simply control the bot with a special glove. Not only was the robotic hand fairly cost-effective to build, but it can move itself exactly like a human hand, so it can effectively handle some pretty tricky objects. And thanks to a gel-like layer on the hand, the robot even grips like a person too.
The robot can also repair itself on the off chance it gets damaged. Finger fell off? No problem: The Sandia Hand uses its remaining fingers to locate the part, then slot it back in without any human assistance. This sort of ability is due to the hand’s 12 degrees of freedom.
The hand costs $10,000 to build, which doesn’t seem all that expensive given the technology used to build it, and the fact that it could save lives.
Developers reckon the hand is not also an important tool for troops though, but a good way of maintaining evidence. Current methods of bomb disposal involves blowing them them up, but the robot can disarm the bombs in such a way that investigators can gather evidence that may lead them to the perpetrator.