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Army Uses Robotics System for Vegetation Clearance Work; Bob Selfridge Comments

Army-RoboticsThe U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center has developed a robotics equipment designed to clear vegetation in a former munitions range in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, that has potential unexploded ordnance, the Army website reported Wednesday.

The Huntsville, Ala.-based center has begun using the robots to pave the way for the construction of a $40 million aerial gunnery range in December 2016 intended to support aerial target and bombing training activities of the service branch’s attack helicopters, William Farrow writes.

“Because of the potential risks associated with UXOs in the ground, removing the trees, shrubs and woody vines from the range target areas is a daunting task,” said Bob Selfridge, robotics technical lead for the vegetation clearance program and chief geophysicist at the Huntsville center.

“Our solution is to utilize remotely operated forestry mulchers, tree shears and feller bunchers to do the job.”

The robotics machine has several mounted cameras designed to help users remotely control the vegetation removal equipment via their monitors or laptops and a wide range of tools such as mulchers, tree shearers and mowers that can be attached to the machine depending on the work to be carried out, Farrow reports.

The robotics system also has a mobile modular control tool that works to navigate the machine’s hydraulic lift boom, acceleration, steering and breaking functions and can be installed on any heavy equipment used to clear forestry vegetation.

Selfridge told the Army the center collaborates with the Environmental Chemical Corp. and its three subcontractors – QinetiQ, Applied Research Associates and Explosive Ordnance Technologies – to further develop the system.

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