New Columbus bomb squad robot a real big-shot


Messenger photo by Whitney Wilson Coy
The BOZ I, a new bomb robot purchased by the Columbus Division of Fire Bomb Squad, is the first of its kind to be purchased by any organization in the U.S. The  robot is run by a hydraulic system, making it ten-times stronger than other robots used by the squad, as it demonstrated  Sept.19 by turning a vehicle on its side.

“No one wants to take the long walk,” when a bomb squad member puts on his gear and makes the solitary walk toward an area where a bomb might be located.

These are the words of a member of the Columbus Division of Fire Bomb Squad during a news conference to reveal their newest robot.

“You hope you get to walk back,” he said.

Thanks to the new BOZ I robot, these long walks will now be less frequent.

The BOZ I bomb robot is a hydraulic system based robot. According to Bomb Squad Captain Steve Saltsman, this makes a huge difference in the strength of the robot.

“The new robot is about ten-times stronger than our old ones,” said Saltsman.

The hydraulic jaws have 12,720 pounds of opening force, 8,500 pounds of closing force and 1,000 pounds of thrusting force.

These capabilities allow the robot to tear, pry and crush devices. Bomb squad representatives used the BOZ I to force open the truck and a passenger door of a vehicle during the robot’s reveal on Sept. 19.

It can also move a 3,300 pound vehicle. During the presentation, the robot punched a hole in the rear tail light of a vehicle and pushed it across an empty parking lot.

According to firefighters, this method can be used to move large objects believed to contain a bomb to a safer location for further investigation.

The robot was also used to turn the vehicle on its side.

The BOZ I is equipped with five cameras – three of which are infrared and two with zoom capabilities. This allows it to be extremely precise.

“We saw a video online where this machine can take quarters and stack them one at a time. It has incredible strength, but it also has the finesse to handle something that delicate,” said Saltsman.

Its remote operation has a one kilometer range, allowing bomb squad personnel to operate the robot from a safe vantage point.

The BOZ I cost $300,000 and was funded through grants from the Urban Area Security Initiative from the Department of Homeland Security.

It is one of only 60 robots of its kind made worldwide and the Columbus Division of Fire is the first department in the country to purchase this new technology.

“We were looking for a new robot and we looked at a lot of different models. None of the other robots came close to the type of capabilities we were looking for,” said Saltsman.

The department currently has two additional robots. The new robot will not replace either of these, but instead will work together with them.

According to Saltsman, the older, smaller robots are still useful because they are lightweight and easily transportable – the new BOZ I weighs 1,300 pounds.

The older robots are also able to climb staircases and enter small spaces, such as airplanes, because they are smaller in size.

The new robot, however, has a much greater reach than the older ones.

“Theoretically, we could use the new robot to pick up a smaller one and place it someplace high, like a second story,” said Saltsman. “When you look at them side by side, it’s like a family.”

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