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RE2 Robotics, a developer of robotic manipulator arms, has received a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award to develop an inflatable Underwater Dual Manipulator system for the US Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR).
Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) divers are often placed in harm’s way while performing underwater location and identification of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) on vessels, bridges, and underwater structures such as piers. The integration of a cost-effective and reliable manipulation system onto an Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) promises to bring the stand-off capabilities that robotic systems have brought to EOD technicians operating on land to those operating underwater.
According to the company’s statement on its website, during Phase I, RE2 engineers designed an inflatable underwater dual manipulation system. This development effort produced a novel design concept for underwater dexterous manipulation that is light-weight, low-cost, and easily deployable in the field as a payload for UUVs. A prototype will be developed and tested during Phase II. Ultimately, the manipulator arms will be used as a collaborative robotic system to assist EOD divers in dismantling IEDs and other hazards.
“Developing robotic technologies that keep individuals out of harm’s way is paramount to the mission of RE2 Robotics,” stated Jorgen Pedersen, president and CEO of RE2. “Historically, we have developed manipulation systems for EOD ground robots. Over the past year, we have worked closely with the Navy to transition our expertise to underwater systems. By extending our manipulation capabilities into the submersible space, we are able to enter new markets, such as Offshore Oil and Gas, which rely on the safe inspection, maintenance and repair of underwater structures.”