Honduran Military Students Develop Bomb-Dismantling Robot
By Dialogo November 09, 2015The example given to us by the Brazilian Army regarding the abundance of wildlife or jungle life that exists in Brazil is magnificent. We, the Hondurans, should learn about this experience to apply it, as appropriate, in our country, Honduras. Jorge Arturo Reina IdiÃ¡quez
Twenty-four military students majoring in mechatronics engineering at Honduras's Defense University (UDH) are designing a bomb-dismantling robot as part of a Ministry of National Defense's effort that encourages them to develop technological innovations to modernize the Armed Forces' equipment.
“The goal is to create a wireless, remote-controlled robot to deactivate bombs so we do not expose people to the process of neutralizing an explosive,” said Captain Cobia Fugon, a member of UDH's Research Department. “The students are working in a synchronized fashion. The specific tasks are divided among groups of three students."
In 2014, the students started designing the robot, which functions as a steel-armored vehicle, similar to a combat tank, but with an infrared camera system to record movements from up to 100 meters without difficulty, according to engineer León Rojas, chairman of UDH's Technology Innovation Department. The prototype, which is about 1.5 meters wide by 2 meters long, will feature brushless motors with power regulators to give it the stability to traverse obstacles.
A versatile device
The Military is expected to use it as a reconnaissance vehicle; an automated greenhouse; to assist and aid victims of disasters, such as oil spills and earthquakes; and to control the operation of a conveyor belt or elevator.
“There are many tests being conducted to build the mechanical part,” Capt. Fugon explained. “We have conducted three field tests and achieved the best possible results. There are two or three tests left before we reach our goal.”
Students and military authorities will continue adjusting the robot before it’s used in the field.
“Honduras and its Armed Forces will reap benefits from this project,” Rojas said. “We expect a positive impact on deterrence of any sort of contingency or attempt to locate a bomb, knowing the Army, Navy, and Air Force have a response.”
In addition to improving public safety, the robot could become profitable.
“This innovation could place the domestic industry in a good position to compete in the international market," Rojas said in remarks reported by Infodefensa
on September 1. "The goal is to sell it."
A record of technological innovation
Before working on the robot, UDH's military students developed drones, known as "weevils," for reconnaissance and to record images authorities are using in forest areas to monitor the impact of climate change.
“These drones will enable us to monitor what is happening. They have a flight range of four to five kilometers, so they could also be used if there’s a fire,” said Rear Admiral Ramón Cristóbal Romero Burgos, UDH's vice chancellor.
The UDH is renowned for its excellence in educating and training Military professionals and select civilians. Military mechatronic engineers educated there are professionals with a solid base of training and knowledge in basic military scientific technology and managing computer tools, as well as in the design and automation of mechatronic systems, control systems, industrial electronic systems, and the manufacturing of materials.
“Through the military majors of Honduras's Defense University, the Ministry of Defense intends to provide bachelor’s, master’s, and specialist students in mechatronics with the knowledge they need to conduct research to update the equipment used by the country’s Armed Forces,” Rear Adm. Romero explained.
Commander Mario Vázquez, chief of UDH's Research and Development Department added: “The intent is for the Honduran Army, Navy, and Air Force to provide us with their projects or subjects to be developed to improve any instrument they have to halt the so-called new threats, thus benefiting the country’s security. It would also be a great experience to contact and have a scientific exchange with other international research universities to bolster our programs.”
The military students' work is helping the country meet modern-day security challenges.
“Honduras must be prepared to meet the threats facing the world today, such as chemical attacks, bombs, arson at refineries, possible anthrax incursions, and drug trafficking,” said Colonel Uriel Cantor Galeano, the National Port Protection Commission's executive director.