JGW International Ltd. will develop a universal operator control unit (OCU) system for four separate robotic platforms used for explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) under a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) contract.
Current OCUs are typically compatible with a single robotic platform only, even if the robots are produced by the same vendor. Bomb technicians can spend up to eight hours every month training on each system to maintain proficiency; a universal system that operates several platforms at once would significantly reduce the amount of dedicated training time.
S&T will work with JGW International Ltd. and Reamda Ltd. to develop a platform that will enable bomb technicians to operate multiple robotic platforms using a single, standardized control unit console. The technology will lead to greater interoperability, lessen training requirements, and reduce operating costs from maintaining (and transporting) multiple devices.
The project is part of the DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) First Responders Group (FRG) initiative to accelerate technology solutions to help solve critical capability gaps identified by first responders across the country.
The effort will be part of FRG’s Response and Defeat Operations Support (REDOPS) program, a joint effort with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to develop countermeasures public safety bomb squads can use to safely and efficiently dispose of improvised explosive devices.
“We are really excited to be able to take an existing, off-the-shelf technology and enhance it to become compatible with multi-vendor OCUs,” said FRG’s REDOPS program manager Byung Hee Frantz. “At the end of the day, having one system that can operate several unmanned ground vehicles will cut back on training hours so bomb techs can focus on field work. It can also enhance mutual aid efforts, allowing for one common operating protocol for up to four robotic devices across federal, state, and local agencies.”
The 12-month contract is valued $422,330.