Over the last 50 years the uses of Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) has grown, with their role and functionality in many industries taking leaps and bounds in advancement of technology and operator usability.
These vehicles are used not only in EOD environments but are also deployed in a number of other civilian and military applications. Their ability to be either remotely or autonomously operated whilst handling the most dangerous environments this world can offer, allows a completely new perspective of accessibility.
Depending on the requirements of the UGV they can be designed or modified to fulfil most operational requirements. These can include mounting simple sensors on to the unit to take readings from a none accessible location to weaponisation for military applications. UGVs are being used to access areas never before entered by humankind.
How did EOD UGVs begin?
The very first EOD UGV was created by Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Miller in 1972. He worked for the British Army’s weapons and explosives testing centre assisting the military with the task of dismantling IRA bombs.
At this time, one of the most fatal terrorist activity was from car bombs, being positioned in high-density populated areas. This method was particularly difficult for EOD teams, as they needed to approach the car to investigate the device through the window and to complete a detailed assessment of the device and risk. This offered significant risk to the operators as the device could be triggered remotely when the EOD team approached.
Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Miller was tasked with coming up with a solution for this. He was renowned for his ability to problem solve and he realised quickly that what the military needed was a device that would allow the operators to diffuse the IED remotely. Miller recalled that he had developed a technique when modifying a lawnmower. A possible solution to the problem, Miller went to a local garden centre to buy a lawnmower, but instead he decided to buy an electrically powered wheelbarrow. He concluded that a motorised wheelbarrow could work as a platform for this. Miller and his team stripped it down until only the engine was left and added a tow hook and a system of ropes so it could be steered from a distance.
Time was a crucial factor here as the situation in Ireland was worsening by the day, so Miller and his team had only had a few weeks of trials, before his invention was put to the test.
The plan was to use the robot as a way to lead the car IEDs to a safer place where it could be surrounded with sandbags to minimise the explosion.
At this time the head of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps Bomb Disposal School, Major Robert John Wilson Patterson had invented the Pigstick, a device used to disrupt IEDs using an explosively-propelled jet of water. The Pigstick had just begun to be used by the ATOs in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, it was not effective against car bombs. By incorporating the Pigstick into the Wheelbarrow it gave larger functionality to the wheelbarrow, by joining the two units in conjunction Patterson and Miller’s inventiveness saved hundreds of lives.
The crude prototypes produced at CAD Kineton proved difficult to manoeuvre. A team at the then Military Vehicles and Engineering Establishment (MVEE, Chertsey) was tasked to improve the tracking and steering.
Over the years the Wheelbarrow has since undergone several upgrades, to improve the tracking and steering, the most notable feature being the 360-degree arm which can be outfitted with various EOD attachments. The Wheelbarrow Revolution is also capable of climbing stairways.
The Wheelbarrow developed from a Mark 3 to Mark 8 prototype with enhanced automotive design, build and fabrication.
The Mark 9 version of the Wheelbarrow was unveiled in 2010 and has been of service by the Metropolitan Police. What began as a simple design has ended up as a sophisticated UGV robot saving and protecting many lives.
The ABP Solution…
With over 50 years’ experience and knowledge in the design and manufacture of world class EOD equipment, ABP has developed its own leading-edge range of EOD UGVs to support Counter EO, namely the Sentinel, Guardian and Archer.
Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) are defined as vehicles that operate in contact with the ground, either remotely operated or autonomous. Used across diverse civilian and military situations where it would be too dangerous or impractical to have human operators physically present, UGVs are used to protect human lives, equipped with a range of sensors and cameras to give full operational awareness whilst carrying out detailed and complicated tasks.
ABP’s UGV the Guardian, has a unique combination of size, payload capacity, reach, dexterity, and manoeuvrability. It can operate on a variety of terrains whilst keeping the operator at a safe distance. It is fitted with the newest technology in radio communication, so it allows for a four-camera live video and audio recording with minimum latency.
Another one of ABP’s UGV is the Sentinel. It is a heavy duty, reliable and robust EOD robot, currently being used by military, law enforcement and security agencies all around the globe. Its six independent wheel motors allow it to travel and operate over the most difficult of terrains, and its manipulator arm has a lifting capacity of 100kgs retracted and 30kgs extended.
ABP is a leading provider of EOD and IEDD equipment. We have formed strong relationships with military entities and have been a long-term prime contractor for the Ministry of Defence. ABP has secured its position as the market leader following 5 decades of experience and continues to develop pioneering technologies in the industry.
ABP develops bespoke products or adapts existing products to suit customer’s specific requirements. ABP has an in-house capability allowing it to draw together its practical explosive ordnance disposal experience and innovative engineering expertise to develop and supply equipment customers can rely on even if the toughest of environments.