A Talon for land mines and heavy debris

Latest robot from Foster-Miller might provide more robust aid for those looking to clean up the dangerous litter of war.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
2 min read
The Talon IV lifts a 38-pound cinder block off an IED. It also sports an AN/PSS-14 minesweeper so soldiers can patrol for mines out of harm's reach. Foster-Miller

Foster-Miller, a subsidiary of Qinetiq North America's Technology Solutions Group, released a new version of its Talon bomb-disposal robot on Thursday.

The latest Talon IV Engineer mine-detecting, counter-IED robot will give soldiers more capability to remotely clear debris, minefields, and other explosive hazards.

The new arm on this latest version, which is 7 feet long and can swivel, will allow users to remotely explore and retrieve from places that were previously too hard for robots to reach, such as garbage dumpsters, abandoned vehicles, and behind guard rails.

The arm has also been fitted with a stronger grasp and can lift up to 65 pounds, according to Foster-Miller. Because of this, the Talon IV robot can be used to lift heavy debris, as well as be mounted with a portable mine detector.

The Talon robot controller has also been upgraded.

The new "Operator Control Unit" radio will be able to transmit video digitally via 802.11, COFDM, or analog. It also includes a touchscreen and game pad for controls.

Over 2,500 Talon robots are already in use by the U.S. military, according to Qinetiq .

The company said in a statement that it believes this latest Talon robot could be of particular use in Afghanistan, a country still littered with land mines. According to United Nations estimates, about 200,000 Afghans have been maimed by "explosive remnants of war" in Afghanistan.

The Talon bomb-disposal robots are already a U.S. military favorite, so there's no reason to doubt that this latest version will be adopted as well.