Bomb disposal robot gets extra lift with linear actuator

A high performance linear actuator from HT Servo has been deployed in a new generation of robots for explosive ordnance disposal.

The Cutlass vehicles, developed by Coventry-based firm Remotec UK, will be used by the MoD for anti-terrorism operations worldwide. According to its developers, they are capable of accommodating a wide range of payloads, sensors and tools, and offer mobility on all types of hard and soft terrain and in all weather conditions, including floods. All motion axes, including the six drive wheels on the Cutlass, are electrically driven, powered by an on-board Lithium ion rechargeable battery. The manipulator arm is equipped with a state of the art gripper and has nine degrees of freedom for greater movement and agility inside limited spaces, such as the interior of a car. The actuator is used to lift the whole robotic arm to provide extra power to the internal base axis rotator gear, maximising its performance and helping counteract the turning moment created when a load is experienced with the arm in an extended position. "This sort of project usually requires a bespoke solution," noted David Baillie of HT Servo. "We worked closely with the Remotec design team to identify maximum loads, speed requirements and other operating parameters. Fortunately the Thomson Electrak LA14 fitted the bill nicely, although we paired it with an extra powerful motor and made a few other modifications commensurate with the likely operating conditions of the Cutlass." According to Baillie, the robot can either creep along at deliberately slow speeds for delicate operations, or accelerate to high speeds to enable rapid travel over a distance. He concluded: "Cutlass will provide the MoD with a step change in capability via a robot that is capable of adapting to new innovations in the world of bomb disposal."