Sandia Labs News Releases

Robot rodeo offers excitement, experience to state’s bomb squads

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A “robot rodeo” at Sandia National Laboratories will be opened for media on Thursday, June 25, from 9 to 11 a.m.

Participating teams are expected to include bomb squads from the Albuquerque Police Department, Santa Fe Police Department, New Mexico State Police, Kirtland Air Force Base, and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Each team will compete by using robots to solve dangerous tasks like removing simulated explosives placed by a terrorist in the overhead rack of an airplane or near a water tank. In another competition, the teams will use robots to explore a ravine for tripwires of the type used to set off IEDs (improvised explosive devices). The teams will also be involved in a kind of NASCAR rapid- repair effort to replace a robot’s treads.

The rodeo serves two purposes. First, it’s intended to be a high-spirited contest among teams of bomb techs to see who is the quickest and safest in using robots to remove explosives in a variety of situations. A second benefit is to give bomb squads throughout the state the opportunity to familiarize themselves with robots that may not be available in their own community, but which they may need to operate when supporting another community.

“Our first responders need to be able to operate on many fields,” says Jake Deuel, Sandia roboticist and coleader of the third annual Western National Robot Rodeo. (The first two were held at Los Alamos National Laboratory.)

“If guys from the APD need to backstop the Santa Fe police force in an emergency, it will be helpful to have experienced some of their tools in advance,” says Chris Ory, coleader from LANL.

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Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.

Interested media should call Iris Aboytes at 844-2282 by 8:15 a.m. on June 25 to be put on the badge list to attend the event. All media must be US citizens. Media must be at the contractor gate on Eubank Boulevard (just south of the employee entrance gate) by 8:30 a.m. to caravan to the sites. Late media cannot be accommodated.

Sandia news media contact: Neal Singer,
(505) 845-7078