RE2 Robotics has secured a Phase I small business innovation research (SBIR) grant to design inflatable underwater manipulator arms for the US Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR).
Under the Phase I programme, the company will be responsible for the design of a light-weight inflatable underwater manipulation system for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV).
The new arms will be designed as a payload for AUVs, and will be used as a collaborative robotic system to assist explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) divers in dismantling waterborne improvised explosive devices (WIEDs) and other hazards.
RE2 president and CEO Jorgen Pedersen said: "Our talented engineering team has extensive experience designing and developing robotic arms for EOD robots.
"Underwater is our next frontier and we are honoured that the navy has entrusted RE2 with the design of this new inflatable robotic manipulation system."
In August, RE2 received a $2.7m contract from the ONR to develop an underwater dexterous manipulation system for EOD applications (DMEA).
Under this contract, RE2 is providing DMEA technology solution to offer EOD personnel with the capability to remotely and effectively address WIEDs.
RE2's dual-arm dexterous manipulation technology, integrated onto an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), will be capable of carrying out EOD tasks in confined spaces.
Image: A conceptual drawing of RE2's inflatable underwater manipulator arm. Photo: courtesy of RE2 Robotics.