Defense

July 30, 2012

R.A.T.S. research may teach rodents to detect explosives

The African giant pouched rat is socialized and readily handled. The Rugged Automated Training System research sponsored by scientists with the U. S. Army Research Laboratory, in collaboration with engineers at West Point and the Counter Explosives Hazards Center, explores whether small rodents could be used to detect improvised explosives and mines.

A rat may never be man’s best friend, but the Rugged Automated Training System research sponsored by scientists with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory, in collaboration with engineers at West Point and the Counter Explosives Hazards Center, will determine if and how these animals can be trained to save soldiers’ lives.

In July, Barron Associates Inc., Charlottesville, Va. was selected for an award under the Small Business Technology Transfer, or STTR, program to develop and test a rugged, automated and low-cost system for training rats to detect improvised explosive devices and mines, said Micheline Strand, chief of the Army Research Office’s Life Sciences Division, which manages the program.

“The automated system we’re developing is designed to inexpensively train rats to detect buried explosives to solve an immediate Army need for safer and lower-cost mine removal,” said William Gressick, senior research engineer and the project’s principal investigator at Barron Associates. “Beyond this application, the system will facilitate the use of rats in other search tasks such as homeland security and search-and-rescue operations. In the long-term, the system is likely to benefit both official and humanitarian organizations.”

“If we can demonstrate that rats can be trained inexpensively to be reliable detectors, then this method would not only lower costs for the Army but would also create new opportunities for using animals to detect anything from mines to humans buried in earthquake rubble,” Strand said.

Air Force SSgt. Brandon Chism, explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 466th Air Expeditionary Squadron, talks with Afghan National Civil Order Police Sgt. Nasrullah Mohammad Sharif, also an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician, about how he uses zip ties to mark a simulated improvised explosive device, Oct. 23, 2011. Chism and his teammates set up weekly training sessions with the ANCOP, in order to validate their technical skills in detecting, extracting and safely clearing improvised explosive devices.

It is well established that animals are capable of identifying explosives at lower concentrations than abiotic systems. The Department of Defense currently relies on dogs as the animal of choice for explosives detection. The goal of this STTR program is not to replace the use of dogs, but to expand the Army’s detection capabilities.

“Training dogs is very expensive. If we can significantly reduce the cost of a trained animal, then we could provide more animals to protect soldiers.” Strand explained.

Trained rats would also create new opportunities; rats can search smaller spaces than a dog can, and are easier to transport.

Landmines kill between 15,000 and 20,000 people a year, and continue to kill adults and children decades after a conflict ends. An automated system to train rats to find mines could accelerate worldwide efforts to clear mined areas and return mined land to farming or other productive uses.

The U.S. Army Research Laboratory of the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command is the Army’s corporate laboratory.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Acquisition community works to improve tradecraft

Everything the defense acquisition community is doing now is being done to improve its tradecraft, Katrina G. McFarland, the assistant secretary of defense for acquisition said April 16. McFarland made the comments at the National Defense Industrial Associations National Logistics Forum. Improving tradecraft is something DOD would want to do in the best of times,...
 
 
B1a

B-1B software upgrade to ensure future warfighting capabilities

Air Force photograph by Ethan Wagner An Edwards B-1B Lancer takes off on April 1, 2014, to begin testing its new Sustainment Block 16A software upgrades. The SB 16A software will work in conjunction with the long-range bomberí...
 
 

45th Space Wing launches NRO Satellite on board Atlas V

The 45th Space Wing successfully launched a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 1:45 p.m. April 10 carrying a classified national security payload. The payload was designed and built by the National Reconnaissance Office. “I am proud of the persistence and focus of the...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Carlin Leslie

Smarter spending for Air Force acquisitions

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Carlin Leslie Maj. Gen. Wendy Masiello briefs attendees April 16, 2014, on how today’s budget environment is driving change for both government and industry as part of the Air Force Associati...
 
 
DOD photograph by Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler

U.S., Poland defense leaders find new areas for cooperation

DOD photograph by Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hosts a press briefing with Poland’s Minister of National Defense Tomasz Siemoniak at the Pentagon, April 17, 2014. Amid deep concerns about...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Richard Eldridge

Air Force researchers test Google Glass for battlefield use

Air Force photograph by Richard Eldridge Dr. Gregory Burnett, middle, and Andres Calvo, right, analyze a graphic representation of movement trackers, as 2nd Lt. Krystin Shanklin tests Google Glass at Wright-Patterson Air Force ...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>