QinetiQ's Dragon Runner robot
Responding to an urgent operational requirement QinetiQ, a leading international supplier of military robots, today announced that it has been awarded contracts by the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) to supply approaching 100 Dragon Runner robots, associated spares and technical services to support of current military operations in Afghanistan.
Dragon Runner is a small, rugged robot that weighs between 10-20kg depending on the chosen configuration. It can be easily carried by a soldier in a backpack and is robust enough to operate in rough terrain to help protect troops. The variant selected by the UK MOD is equipped with a manipulator arm to assist with the disarming of improvised explosive devices but the versatility of the Dragon Runner platform means that it can also be configured for a variety of other reconnaissance and surveillance operations. The Dragon Runner robot is also able to operate in sewers, drainpipes, caves and courtyards to detect danger.
Already being deployed, the all-seeing, all-listening Dragon Runner has the ability to send back video footage back to the operator at a safe distance thereby enabling troops to assess a situation prior to moving forward or entering a structure, potentially safeguarding lives.
The backpack-able Dragon Runner is particularly suited to operational environments similar to those experienced in Afghanistan where the road system has been ravaged by almost continuous fighting since the late 1970s and where many troop movements are conducted either on foot or by helicopter. The use of robots also has significant benefits in Afghanistan where the United Nations estimates that 200,000 people have been disabled by landmines and the explosive remnants of war.