Defender – Not just an anti-bomb robot

Nicholle Murmel

Robots were one of the great hits during the LAAD 2015 defense expo that took place last April in Rio de Janeiro – especially those designed to deactivate and dismantle explosive devices. One of them was the Defender, manufactured by Canadian company Med-Eng and distributed in Brazil by Bercana. The model presented at LAAD is the biggest one on the company’s catalog, and it can move objects weighting up to 70 pounds with its fully jointed arm.

Andrew Miles, Med-Eng’s sales director for Canada and Latin-America, showed our reporter how the Defender works. It has several cameras on its body, so operations can be documented. Regular video cameras can be replaced with X-ray scans that can assess components and types of explosive device, or even infra-red sensors for tactical demands. “This equipment can go in first at a mission site, before Special Forces or tactical teams, and completely scan the place”, Miles explained.

The Defender is built with heavy-duty, military-standard steel, and its structure is completely mobile and jointed. The remote control is also robust, and its many buttons and levers allow the operator to move each of the machine’s joints separately. Miles also told our reporter that, during a real operation scenario, the cameras on the robot are connected to screens and a monitoring suite that keeps track of the robot’s actions.

The equipment comes in different configurations and has a varied set of accessories such as tongs, claws, cables and hooks that can be attached and make the Defender able to manage all sorts of scenarios and objects. “These accessories were developed based on our customers’ experiences, on their stories of how they managed to overcome challenges and unexpected situations”, Miles said.

The accessories pack takes this robot well beyond its most common role as anti-bomb equipment. Among its special capabilities there’s hostage-rescue and going into hazardous environments with high levels of radiation, chemical or biological contamination. “When that tragedy happened at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, these guys were the first ones to go in”, Miles tells, placing his hand on the Defender’s mechanical arm.


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