Last week, like most American parents I was shocked by the news of Aurora, Colorado. I am perplexed how such demons can cowardly kill with the press of a finger. Clearly, machines are easier to understand. In fact, robots are to be congratulated in stopping a bigger tragedy with the shooter’s booby-trapped bomb-laden apartment.
According to police and FBI reports, the first “boots” on the ground in Holmes’ apartment was a bomb disposal robot that cleared the way for human responders. According to FBI Agent James Yacone, the “robot was really skillfully driven by one of the Adams County bomb techs,” and the mechanical hero “neutralized potential improvised explosive devices, incendiary devices and fuel found near the door.” After the threat was eliminated hours later the evidence collection began. When downloading the robot’s cameras, investigators were amazed by the multiple containers of accelerants, triggering mechanisms, wires and fuses throughout the 800 sq. ft. chamber. “This apartment was designed to kill whoever entered it,” Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates said during a press conference. Fortunately for Chief Oates his department along with the ATF and FBI had a secret weapon – a $150,000 bomb disposal robot.
While the exact model of the robot remains undisclosed, I suspect that the hero last week was similar to Israel’s Talon, which specializes in bomb neutralization. In addition to Israel, the the Talon has completed over 100,000 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan saving thousands from disaster. Japan also deployed the Talon during the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown.
The brilliance of the Talon robot, gives some comfort from the horrors of man. Talon may soon be joined, at least in space, by a female companion nicknamed AILA (see left). According to German researchers, this new fem-bot is preparing to join the International Space Station in the near future. While remembering the deceased and injured, we are also grateful for the industrious minds that create these new helpmates.