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Navy to purchase MMP-30 bomb-disposal robots from The Machine Lab for use in Afghanistan

Posted by John Keller

INDIAN HEAD, Md., 26 June 2013. U.S. Navy bomb-disposal experts needed small unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) for explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) in Afghanistan. They found their solution from The Machine Lab Inc. in Fort Collins, Colo.

Officials of the Naval Surface Warfare Center's Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division in Indian Head, Md., announced a $17.1 million contract Tuesday to The Machine Lab for the company's MMP-30 tracked bomb-disposal robots and accessory parts.

The unmanned vehicles contract is a foreign military sale (FMS) to Afghanistan, and government authorities in Afghanistan will use the backpackable robots for bomb detection and safe bomb disposal. Small UGVs like the MMP-30 enable operators to find and handle bombs from a safe distance.

The MMP-30 is a bare-bones simple but rugged robot designed to be as light and compact as possible without limiting its mobility in urban areas. The small UGV weighs 30 pounds and is designed to be a man-portable workhorse, The Machine Lab officials say.

The UGV can carry 20 pounds of payload and can be outfitted with cameras, sensors, computers, tools, test equipment, and other supplies. It has a water-resistant aluminum hard anodized chassis with long-life ball bearings in critical areas, company officials say.

Powering the machine is a 24-volt rechargeable NiCad battery that enables the tracked robot to operate for two hours between rechargings, and its designers recommend recharging its battery with a 24-volt universal smart charger.

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The square-shaped robot is 19.5 inches long, 20 inches wide, and 21.5 inches high without payload, and is available in pneumatic wheel or tracked configurations. Its base price is $4,325 each.

The tracked UGV can move as quickly as 2.5 feet per second, while the wheeled version can move at 4 feet per second. Custom high-current motor drivers with thermal and over-current protection control the vehicle, while a standard hobby-type PWM signal or with RS-232 serial control can control its motor drivers.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center's Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division develops and supplies explosive ordnance disposal tools and equipment for the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. government partners, and allied governments.

The Machine Lab will do the contract work in Wellington, Colo., and should be finished by April 2014. For more information contact The Machine Lab online at www.themachinelab.com, or the Naval Surface Warfare Center's Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division at www.navsea.navy.mil/nswc/eodtechdiv.


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