Support: March 9, 2003


U.S. Army Engineers are using robots to perform one of the more dangerous jobs in Afghanistan, searching caves for booby traps. For centuries, Afghans have used the many caves in their mountains to hide food, weapons and other goods. The Russians brought with them a lot of simple technology for making booby traps and the Afghans quickly took to placing tripwires connected to grenades and other explosives to booby trap the caves containing their arms caches. Unless you knew exactly how the booby trap was set up, it would go off when you entered to search the cave. Several robots have been used to search these caves. The latest one is MATILDA (Mesa Associates' Tactical Integrated Light-Force Deployment Assembly). This robot has been used by police departments for several years. MATILDA has a claw with 35-pound lift, seven cameras (capable of panning, tilting, zooming and operating in low-light conditions), and a one-kilometer reel of cable (that can tow 475 pounds). The robot uses a fiber-optic control system. The combined track and wheeled machine can climb stairs and carry more than 100 pounds. 


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