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Sandia Hosts Annual Robot Rodeo

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A remote-controlled hazardous-duty robot.

The Western National Robot Rodeo is a four-day, 10-event technical competition for bomb squads and other public safety organizations that use hazardous-duty robots and is designed to push both the robots and the operators to their limits.

Credit: Randy Montoya

Sandia National Laboratories recently hosted the seventh annual Western National Robot Rodeo and Capability Exercise, an event that draws civilian and military bomb squad teams from across the United States to see who can most effectively defuse dangerous situations with the help of robots.

The 10-event technical competition provides an opportunity to practice using robots and new technology in a low-risk, but competitive environment.

"We want them to experience a variety of situations so they can be prepared when they’re called upon to handle a dangerous situation," says Robot Rodeo coordinator Jake Deuel.

Past events have asked participants to identify, locate, and dispose of suspected hazardous material stored in a residential garage, locate and move simulated fuel rods from a nuclear reactor damaged by a tornado, and remove simulated explosives placed by a terrorist in the overhead rack of an airplane or near a water tank.

"Every year since its inception, the Robot Rodeo coordinators have made the scenarios increasingly complex, so it gives us a great chance to practice our skills and introduce new members of our team to different situations," says New Mexico state police bomb squad commander Sgt. Jose Salazar.

From Sandia National Laboratories
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