Carnegie Mellon University

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National Robotics Engineering Center Awarded Research Grant with Office of Naval Research

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has selected Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) to begin work on DoD Explosive Ordnance Disposal S&T Large Area Clearance Experiment (LACEx) under Ocean Engineering and Marine Systems.

EOD technicians frequently clear areas in a variety of environments, complicated terrain, and unpredictable weather conditions. The current clearance process is time and labor intensive, involving repetitive work and high cognitive load on the operator. Additionally, the sensor used for this work is extremely sensitive to small disturbances of the magnetic field and cannot be used with traditional unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs).

In the initial phase of this program, NREC will take a multi-prong approach to develop a prototype of a custom robotic platform for use in EOD missions. While the core mission is to identify unexploded ordnance (UXO), the key challenge is to intentionally design using materials which present minimal magnetometer interference, avoiding negative impacts on sensor performance and sensitivity.

NREC has worked in the demining industry for over 20 years developing technology for identifying and mapping unexploded ordnance (UXO), mine detection and clearing, and supporting DoD countermining efforts. The opportunity presented by ONR aligns well with previous systems NREC has developed, including the Sweep Monitoring System, a handheld land mine detector implementing real time feedback, and Scorpion, a “lightweight, man-portable system that utilizes an electro-magnetic induction (EMI) sensor and a total field magnetometer to detect buried objects in an overpass mode.”

Many of these demining solutions are deployed to assist in humanitarian efforts overseas and in GPS-denied environments.

Established under ONR directives, the project will advance previous successes to make the dangerous task of demining operations more efficient, more reliable, and ultimately safer by removing EOD technicians out of harm’s way.

This project is sponsored by the Department of the Navy, Office of Naval Research under ONR award number N00014-22-1-2686

Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Naval Research.