Robots Have Disassembled 700000 Rockets for the US Military

first_img Get Used to ‘Fortnite’s’ Powerful Mech SuitsRobots to Compete in Underground Challenge in Mining Tunnels Stay on target There are two kinds of tasks that most humans will gladly hand over to a robot: those that are incredibly repetitive (and monotonous) and those that are incredibly dangerous.That’s precisely why the Pentagon setup a robotic lab to tackle a chore that checks both boxes: demilitarizing munitions.Almost a decade ago the Army broke ground on a first-of-its-kind facility at the Anniston Army Depot in Alabama. Its purpose: to process a stockpile of hundreds of thousands of munitions.AdChoices广告The danger to a human life is clear enough — these are live rockets we’re talking about. The level of monotony is, too. The robots at Anniston would be repeating the same ultra-precise movements with the exact same level of care at the exact same modest pace over and over… and over.This automated system demilitarizes warheads by cutting the grenades out individually, picking and placing them, and then removing the fuses. (Photo Credit: Regina Valenzuela/Sandia National Laboratories)For their first tour of duty, they would be tasked with submunitions designed for use with the Army’s M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System. The first M270s were delivered to the Army back in 1982 and were first deployed to West Germany the following spring.Last week Sandia National Laboratories announced that the robot crew had successfully demilitarized 700,000 warheads. The robots can process 21 warheads in an 8-hour shift.It’s an incredibly complex task that required the development of an incredibly complex system: a team of nine robots with a total of 55 cameras and hundreds of sensors. Each rocket is tightly packed with 644 individual grenades that are encased in foam. The robots have to cut the grenades out individually, pick and place them, and then remove the fuses.Prior to the creation of the Anniston facility, the Army only had less-desirable ways of dealing with outmoded munitions. They could be detonated, burned, buried, or sunken at sea.Thanks to Sandia that wasn’t the case with these 700,000 rockets. Their components can now be safely recycled or re-used.More on Robot Museum in Seoul Plans to Construct ItselfEngineers Built a Self-Aware Robot That Operates on Its OwnThis MIT Robot Learned to Play Jenga Through Vision and Touchlast_img