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Bomb disposal robot gets extra lift with actuator

Bomb disposal robot gets extra lift with actuator The British Ministry of Defence and security services are taking delivery of Cutlass, the latest generation of robots for explosive ordnance disposal (EOD). The Cutlass vehicles will be used by the MoD for anti-terrorism operations worldwide, as well as EOD operations at home. Domestic incidents can include terrorism, crime and occasions such as failures in demolition projects and quarrying. Over the years there has also been many incidents such as old shells being used as doorstops and collections of ordnance being kept in homes.

Eighty Cutlasses have been ordered initially, which are being phased into service, with further orders expected to follow from a range of buyers. These are being built by Remotec UK and are the primary replacement for Remotec's Wheelbarrow remote EDO vehicle design, which has done sterling service in Northern Ireland and elsewhere since the 1970s. It offers the latest technology in a modular design, making it capable of accommodating a wide range of payloads, sensors and tools.

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, thus maximising its performance and helping counteract the turning moment created when a load is experience with the arm in an extended position.

For a suitable actuator, Remotec turned to HT Servo. "This sort of project usually requires a bespoke solution," explains David Baillie of HT Servo. "We worked closely with the Remotec design team to identify maximum loads, speed requirements and other operating parameters. The best outcome would be to customise a standard actuator, as this would help contain costs. 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."

The actuator is based on a screw drive system so is suitable for applications requiring maximum load capacity. It is also designed to offer robust reliable performance over a long life. As an additional benefit it has a built-in anti-rotation mechanism, while its aluminium cover tube is both tough and lightweight.
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