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Kirland Air Force Base wins Robot Rodeo

Hazardous devices teams test their maneuvering skills
July 1, 2013
Students from Valarde Middle School won the video competition in the  Best in Show and Middle School categories. They are shown here with sixth-grade teacher Jimmy Lara.

During the Robot Rodeo, an unseen operator attempts to conduct reconnaissance and rescue injured personnel

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Kirland Air Force Base wins Robot Rodeo

Police and public safety teams from as far away as New Jersey recently convened in Albuquerque to test their ability to remotely deploy robots under a variety of challenging settings. The eight teams participated in events designed to test their mettle and their metallic companions in the 7th annual Robot Rodeo in late June.

Robots are used when sending in a human responder could result in serious harm, such as locating a possible bomb or if noxious gasses or hazardous chemicals are present. However, getting these 400 to 800 pound electromechanical servants to remotely do one’s bidding is more difficult than it might seem. One of the goals of the competition is to give participants some concentrated rehearsal or “stick time,” as it is known, to hone their skills with their robots.

“During the two and a half days of the Rodeo, responders get about 30 hours of practice,” said Chris Ory, with the Lab’s Emergency Response Group. “This year’s tasks included functioning in an actual post office in the dark and in a gallery above the workspace to introduce additional spatial difficulties. In one test we made the environment extremely noisy to help simulate the chaos associated with actual disaster scenes.”

Vendors were on hand to display new robot technology as well as keep the robot contestants running during the “games.”

And the winners for the 2013 Western National Robot Rodeo are:

1st place: Kirtland Air Force Base’s Explosive Ordinance Disposal Flight

2nd place- Albuquerque Police Department Bomb Squad

3rd place- New Jersey State Police Bomb Squad

Winners received trophies, plaques and tools they can use to help improve the capabilities of their robots. 

This year the Israeli National Police attended the event as observers. The organization may participate in the event in coming years.

The Rodeo is held every year and is held alternating years by Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories.


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