Dragon Runner Throwbots To Join iRobot PackBots in Afghanistan

After being constantly on the receiving end of improvised explosive devices, British forces are gearing up to level the playing field by playing their own game of catch.

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) is still the number one threat for US soldiers and their allies in the war against terror. American ground troops rely on high-tech machines like the iRobot PackBot to mitigate risks associated with explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) operations. Now, British forces are about to get some robot reinforcements themselves. 

The UK Ministry of Defense recently awarded a £12 M contract to QinetiQ, maker of the Dragon Runner SUGV. 

Dragon Runner SUGV (Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle) robots are throw-able machines designed for checkpoint security, under-vehicle inspection, reconnaissance in narrow passages, and EOD operations, among others.

The contract involves 100 Dragon Runners, spare parts, and tech support.

dragon runner optimizedThese throwbots  are highly configurable. The basic unit only weighs 14 lbs, measures just 12.2 x 16.6 x 6 inches, and runs on four wheels. However, numerous attachments are available. After add-ons such as tracks, multi-axis manipulator arms, PTZ Servo-Cams, or Small Unit Sensor Systems are attached, a Dragon Runner can reach up to 44 lbs. 

The Dragon Runners ordered by the UK Ministry of Defense will be outfitted with the manipulator arms as they will be used primarily for bomb disposal.

The video below which shows a small robot being literally thrown from different positions is the basic unit. The one in the image, on the other hand, is an optimized SUGV model. 

We've featured a couple of throwable robots here. There's the 5.4-lb handheld EyeDrive (yup, literally hand-held - like an over-sized cellphone), while the other one, known as the Urban Hopper, can even 'toss' itself in the direction of the enemy.


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