In the aftermath of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Japan on March 11, 2011, the country faces a massive cleanup and rebuilding effort that will take years. To assist in the dangerous task of clearing hazardous debris that stretches for hundreds of miles along Japan's east coast, the North American arm of global defense technology company QinetiQ has announced it will provide unmanned vehicle equipment and training to aid in the colossal undertaking.
Robotic Appliqué KitsThe equipment includes QinetiQ's Robotic Appliqué Kits that convert standard Bobcat loaders into unmanned vehicles in just 15 minutes. This allows all of the Bobcat's 70 vehicle attachments, such as shovels, buckets, grapples, tree cutters and tools to break through walls and doors, to be operated remotely from a safe distance of up to one mile (1.6 km) away. The kits fit a Bobcat with seven cameras, night vision, thermal imagers, microphones, two-way radio systems and radiation sensors to allow operators to safely remove rubble and debris, dig up buried objects and carry smaller equipment.
The TALON robots are small, tracked military robots that are equipped with a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive (CBRNE) detection kits that can identify more than 7,500 environmental hazards including toxic industrial chemicals, volatile gases, radiation and explosive risks, as well as temperature and air quality indicators. The robots, which have used in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as for search and recovery in Ground Zero after September 11, also provide night vision and sound and sensing capabilities from up to 3,280 ft. (1,000 m) away.
Dragon Runner robot
The smaller and more lightweight Dragon Runner robots are designed for use in small spaces and could be used to investigate spaces too small or dangerous for humans to access, such as rubble piles, trenches, culverts and tunnels. Light enough to be carried in a backpack, the four-wheeled robot is designed to function any way up and its front-mounted tilting thermal cameras and sound sensors can relay data back to its master controller up to 2,625 ft. (800 m) away.
In addition to the unmanned equipment, QinetiQ North America will also provide a team of technical experts to give training and support to Japan's disaster response personnel.
"We are honored to have this opportunity to support Japan's recovery efforts," said QinetiQ North America Technology Solutions Group President JD Crouch. "Our unmanned vehicles will provide reliable, effective, first responder technology to help protect the brave men and women who are working to save lives and restore critical services."