The arrest of one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects was carried out, in part, with the help of a remote controlled robot. Such an operation highlights the growing uses of unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) in anti-terrorist and other operations. Northrop Grumman Corporation’s CUTLASS robot, developed by its division in Coventry, U.K. is designed to provide remote handling and surveillance of hazardous threats and is intended to replace British Army’s Wheelbarrow robot for bomb disposal.

Demoed in 2007, the CUTLASS boasts a modular design with a three-fingered gripper at the end of a manipulator arm which is engineered for nine degrees of freedom to allow it to operate in tight spots, such as a car interior. It's equipped with six wheels that can carry it over soft and hard terrain in all weather conditions and allow it to creep along at slow speeds for delicate operations or travel at up to 12 km/h (7.4 mph) when speed is required.

Northrop Grumman claims that its ability to accommodate a wide range of payloads, sensors and tools to suit multiple missions allows CUTLASS to operate without the need for a second robot, providing savings of 50 percent when compared to maintaining and operating two separate UGVs over the life of the vehicle.

It also means that CUTLASS can get the job done without having to return to the incident control point for additional tools during operations. The company says this results in a vehicle that can deal with hazardous situation up to four times quicker than other UGVs.

"[The CUTLASS] is more dexterous, cost effective and, as a package, four times faster than any other UGV," said Greg Roberts, managing director, defence and security, Northrop Grumman Information Systems Europe. "The vehicle is already in service across the U.K. and has proven itself to be robust and capable in the most demanding environments. We look forward to exploiting the potential opportunities for exporting this capability into international markets."

The CUTLASS will be exhibited at the Counter Terror Expo that will be at the National Hall, Olympia, London, April 24-25.

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