|Story & photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems &
A new robotics obstacle course at Fort McCoy’s
Contingency Operating Location Freedom is training Soldiers in a skill
that is vital to safety.
Sgt. Scott Sims closely observes
the operation of two Talon robots on the new robotics obstacle
course at Fort McCoy’s Contingency Operating Location Freedom.
Sims is an Observer-Controller-Trainer with the 181st Infantry
Observer-Controller-Trainers (OCTs) from the 1st, 338th (1/338th)
Training Support Battalion drove four Talon robots in, around, through
and over the 100-foot-by-100-foot course, hunting hidden improvised
explosive devices (IED) during familiarization training.
“We use the Talons to locate, interrogate (investigate), identify and
neutralize suspicious objects, possible IEDs,” Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin
Culver said. Culver is the noncommissioned officer-in-charge and
IED-Defeat master trainer at the 1/338th. The 1/338th is one of the five
support battalions of the 181st Infantry Brigade that conducts
mobilization training at Fort McCoy.
“Using Talons is extremely important to the Soldier,” Culver said,
“because it, and its family of various robots, takes the place of
putting a Soldier in harm’s way, in close proximity to an IED, in an
extremely dangerous job. Let the Talon do the dangerous work.”
OCTs conducted a train-the-trainer course with the Talons as they
prepared for the next influx of units coming to Fort McCoy to deploy in
support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Television cameras on the Talon transmit images back to a viewing screen
on a control panel.
The operator uses a joystick to propel the robot in the desired
direction and speeds.
A pincer device on the tip of the extendable, mechanized arm allows the
operator to pick up or set down objects or probe for suspicious objects,
like IEDs or unexploded ordnance.
Talons also may be employed to inspect caves and tunnels
Reconnaissance and surveillance are among its other capabilities.
“Mobilizing Soldiers will be given some ‘stick time’ to hone their
skills with the Talon and become accurate with it,” Culver said. “Most
engineer Soldiers already have training on the Talon, so their
mobilization training at Fort McCoy will mostly be a refresher.”
Most of the Soldiers now at Fort McCoy for deployment training are
combat engineer units, and most are organizing into route-clearance
Each route-clearance patrol will have a Talon available for use.