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04/11/2020 - 05/11/2020

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Space and weight saving bearings prove ideal for Cutlass EOD robot

Space and weight saving bearings prove ideal for Cutlass EOD robot The new Cutlass unmanned ground vehicle, made by Coventry-based Northrop Grumman, can operate in places others can't reach. This latest generation remotely operated bomb disposal vehicle includes a manipulator arm with turret, shoulder, elbow and wrist joints that rotate and roll to give nine degrees of freedom, making it the most versatile in the world. This dexterity allows the vehicle to be used in confined, hard-to-access spaces.

An important element in the design is the use of space and weight saving Kaydon Reali-Slim bearings from RA Rodriguez. These bearings were specified on all joints and axes on the manipulator arm of this six-wheeled unmanned ground vehicle. Seven different sizes were used, ranging in diameters from 60mm to 250mm and their performance is of critical importance for many reasons. Vehicle weight, compactness, cost, payload, reach requirements, positioning repeatability and responsiveness are all directly affected by bearing selection.

The inherent design and performance benefits of Kaydon Reali-Slim thin-section bearings make them a popular choice for applications such as the Cutlass unmanned ground vehicle. Aside from their space and weight saving potential, high bearing stiffness and the large internal diameter to accommodate electrical and other services are important qualities. The Kaydon Reali-Slim thin section angular and radial contact bearings used in this application can accept combinations of radial, thrust and moment loads.

Kaydon Reali-Slim bearings have a radial cross section that remains constant as the bore diameter increases.  Characteristically, they are considerably lighter in weight than bearings with conventional cross sections.

Weight saving was one of the reasons for Northrop Grumman's choice of Kaydon Reali-Slim for its Cutlass bomb disposal vehicle. However the company also benefited from the specialist engineering support that RA Rodriguez was able to supply. Its engineers worked closely with the Northrop Grumman design team to ensure correct bearing selection and set-up for the required rigidity, load capacity and low friction movement.

Cutlass was designed and developed by Northrop Grumman for the Ministry of Defence and was brought into service with the British Army in 2012. It is now available for international customers.
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