The UK government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) has developed a robot that uses x-ray technology to detect weapons and explosives.
Lab experts have conducted field trials on a prototype that uses x-ray backscatter (XRBS) imaging technology mounted on a L3Harris T7 teleoperated robot.
The prototype imager head is mounted on the robot arm and is operated via a haptic controller. By combining the x-ray system with the EOD robot, the team has been able to showcase remote deployment of the robot’s capability across a range of different terrains.
Backscatter technology works by forming an image by sweeping a small beam of x-rays across a target, with those reflected back being detected by equipment mounted on the front of the imager.
DSTL has suggested that this could save lives by enabling military personnel to look inside containers, including cars and walls, for hidden weapons or explosive materials while maintaining a distance from the threat.
Another key benefit includes that operators could scan large areas quicker, leading to increased situational awareness and affording troops an operational advantage.
The team has collaborated with the US government to create two prototypes so far. One prototype was shown detecting threats through bags, plastic drums and metal lockers.
Andrew, senior principal scientist on the project, said: “The feedback we’ve had from our stakeholders who have come to see the system up here has been very positive, better than I could have hoped for really.
“I’ve been jotting things down – some direct quotes to use – and I think my favourite so far has been ‘I want one!’
“When they say something like that you know you’ve delivered something that has piqued their interest.”
Now that field trials have finished, the project team will be implementing modifications based on feedback from the tests. It is hoped this will lead to the production of a military asset that could be used on the battlefield.