Small robot advances safety and capability for EOD

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Justin Parsons
  • 9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs
An explosive ordnance disposal technician looks in the direction of improvised explosive device he was dispatched to neutralize. Staged just outside the danger zone, he prepares to approach the IED, but instead of donning a forest green, explosive resistant bomb suit, he reaches into a backpack and pulls out a small remote controlled robot.

Operating robots to defuse explosive threats is a regular and often first line option used by EOD Airmen to ensure safety. But when the location of the device is inaccessible to larger, bulky robots, Airmen don bomb suits to complete the mission.

“On dismounted operations eventually someone is going to suit up,” said Senior Airman Jared Basham, 9th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD technician, “But now with the MTGR we can send it in first.”

However, as technology advances so do the abilities of our nation's adversaries, placing increased importance on innovation. For the 9th EOD technicians, the Micro Tactical Ground Robot helps them do just that.

The MTGR offers EOD Airmen a technologically advanced option to operate in a safer environment, while its lightweight build delivers the flexibility to perform missions in otherwise unreachable locations.

Basham said with a weight of 16 lbs and compact dimensions the unit can be carried on an Airman's back with the capability to operate almost anywhere.

“Its biggest advantage is being man portable, unlike our other robots that require multiple Airmen just to move,” Basham said. “With this new system I can hike for miles over rough terrain.”

Once deployed, the MTGR features 360 degree video coverage, night vision and self-righting capabilities to provide a tactical picture for EOD Airmen.

According to Master Sgt. Jayson Wells, 9th CES EOD flight chief, the self-righting capabilities of the MTGR along with other features are key in ensuring his Airmen stay in a safe environment.

“During an operation previous robots could flip and become disabled. If that happens a technician has to go manually flip the robot back upright, putting them in danger,” said Basham.

With all of the advancement in technology, Airmen still play a critical role in the final result of an operation.

“No matter how sophisticated the system is, the EOD technician is the most important determining factor in whether or not the mission is successful,” said Wells, “As of now, nothing can replace the role of our Airman.”