War in Ukraine: robots enter the scene!

Around Kyiv, deminers use the dog robot Spot, from Boston Dynamics, to handle unexploded ordnance. It allows to replace the human and to sneak where other demining robots cannot go.

In addition to the mines, with thousands of ammunition fired every day on the front line in southern and eastern Ukraine, the ravaged soil resembles that of the Marne in 1915. As at the time, a significant number of unexploded shells are disseminated everywhere on the vast agricultural lands, urban areas and campaigns. The work of the deminers is already beginning and their cleanup promises to be as long as that of their ancestors after the Second World War. Among the demining companies commissioned by the Ukrainian authorities, there is the American HALO Trust.

In addition to their usual demining robots, the deminers are accompanied by the famous robot dog Spot from Boston Dynamics. His hunting ground is currently around Kyiv. He must flush out Russian shells and unexploded cluster munitions. Use a robot so as not to endanger a human being is part of the attributions of the models designed by Boston Dynamics. Spot has been training for this hunt for explosives for a year. He tested the recovery of cases that resemble these cluster munitions and the results are convincing, since he now finds himself operational. In Ukraine, the robot could also be used to recover the fearsome Russian POM-3 antipersonnel mines. Thrown from a launcher or a aircraftthese mines detect the presence of a person or a vehicle a few meters away and send an explosive charge in theair to do the maximum damage.

Specialized in Russian cluster munitions

In the field, he is sent like any other human deminer in contact with explosives. The robot deploys a robotic arm placed above its head to move the ammunition to pits containing other explosives. After accumulating between 50 and 100 shells, the deminers detonate everything to safety. For now, the robot accompanies one of the 10 HALO teams that have been deployed to Bucha and Brovary whose names have become infamous.

Apart from Spot, the deminers also operate other robots in the field, with machines that cut potential trap trigger cables, or enclose radars to scan the ground. Robots specially designed for these tasks, such as the armored MV-4 which weighs seven tons are very effective, but in any case they lack the agility of a Spot which can sneak around everywhere and even in the forests. This type of robot could also be used to clean houses trapped by the Russian army to sow terror among populations. For the moment, with only one Spot robot in action, this presence remains symbolic, but HALO Trust says it is able to deploy a dozen robot dogs in the near future with the reinforcement of his teams.

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