August 10th, 2012
03:00 AM ET

It's a touchy feely kind of robot

By Jennifer Rizzo

A new robotic arm would give U.S. troops in Afghanistan the ability to feel the improvised explosive devices they are remotely trying to disarm, potentially allowing for greater precision than ever before.

The arm, called the RedHawk, gives its operator the sense of touch by using "haptic technology.” The perceptions of force, vibrations, and motion allow the operator to feel like they are touching the object.

"RedHawk's haptic control technology reduces operator workload, preserves forensic evidence, and provides such realistic, intuitive feedback that operators can pick out an individual wire in an IED," said Bill Gattle of Harris Government Communications Systems.

The system's precision will aid the operator in dismantling an IED’s triggering mechanism without destroying it, allowing the military to lift fingerprints or other clues to who made the bomb, according to the company.

A total of four sensors are built into the robots two fingers. If the sensors come in contact with an object like an IED the sensors communicate that back to a grip like handle that the operator is using. The handle is equipped with motors to replicate the sensations.

"Anytime the robot would contact something you as the operator would feel like you have contacted it," said Paul Bosscher, a scientist at Harris Corporation that worked on the development of the arm. "It will feel like the grip of that handle is an extension of your own hand."

The arm can even be programmed to filter out an operator's shaky hand.

"You can be more precise with the robot than you are with your hand because you can adjust how sensitive the robot is," said Bosscher.

Harris Corporation revealed the bot during the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International's conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, this week.

This is the first unit of its kind that will be available to the military, according to Bosscher. The arms are also plug-and-play, meaning they can be attached to the thousands of medium sized ground robots already owned by the military.

Defense Department officials are interested in the technology, which has been in development for three years, said Bosscher. Previous generation prototypes have even been tested at military training facilities in the U.S.

According to Harris Corporation, RedHawk can also be used to disarm chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons as well as aid in first responder search and rescue operations.

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Filed under: Military • Security Brief • Technology
soundoff (21 Responses)
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  7. WASP

    well can anyone say "skynet here we come?" lmfao

    August 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Reply
    • Joe dirt

      I love it. It's going to be great when Skynet goes live over Beijing.

      August 14, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  8. Everett Wallace

    okay touchy feely you can have it, that's not for me if you not an engineer or eod then leave the bombs alone. these nukes in the united states and the big BOMB in norcross georgia usa requires my personal apperance and attention dummies

    August 10, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Reply
  9. Joe Providence

    Joe dirt – How do we know you’re not a British troll (BTW I consider UK a rival as much as I do China)

    August 10, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Reply
    • Joe dirt

      You stupid Chinaman. Go eat a lead laced rice cake.

      August 14, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Reply
    • Joe dirt

      f–k your momma, f–k your daddy, f–k your chinese grandma, and your whole generations of ancestors.

      I hope you all burn in hell.

      August 14, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Reply
  10. Jim

    so in the video, it is precise enough to stack blocks (with operator of course)...but can you use it to play Jinga?

    August 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Reply
    • Major Tom

      Jenga (not Jinga) requires high sensitivity tactile sensing. This mechansim doesn't have that. So, no.

      August 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Reply
      • YellowJacket

        Actually, it says right in the article that the system does have tactile sensing.

        August 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  11. Joe dirt

    CNN should get rid of the security clearance section. All it does is inform the Chinese trolls about some of the stuff we're doing and give them a medium to bash it. We should just get rid of this section. All you ever see are pages of Chinese saying bad things and pretending to be Americans.

    August 10, 2012 at 4:13 am | Reply
    • 66th Strategic Command & Operations Unit.

      Freedom of press allows news agencies to essentially report and leak anything the military comes up with, If the president or a military official were to ask them not to do that it would be a outrage and people would claim that it's infringement on their freedoms.

      August 10, 2012 at 7:59 am | Reply
      • CNNuthin

        Which reminds me, how is Julian Assange doing these days? I saw a "Free Bradley Manning" protestor trying to get signatures all the way up here in Boston 2 days ago.

        August 10, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Sodomite

      Joe, the sooner you seek treatment, the sooner you may be able to get help in dealing with your paranoia.

      August 12, 2012 at 10:50 am | Reply
      • Joe dirt

        The sooner we find out where you are posting from, the better.

        August 14, 2012 at 3:06 pm |

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