Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed the location of Teledyne FLIR Defense. The company is located in Chelmsford, Mass.
WASHINGTON – Teledyne FLIR Defense expanded its contract with the U.S. Department of Defense to provide nearly 500 unmanned robots to help with disarming landmines and unexploded ordnance.
The robots, called Centaurs, are used by the military to put service members at less risk when evaluating and defusing explosive weapons. As an uncrewed ground system, Centaur is equipped with a single mechanical arm, sensors and cameras that can detect and transmit information, creating distance between the hazardous material and personnel.
“We put distance between good people and bad things,” Tom Frost, the Chelmsford, Massachusetts-based company’s general manager of unmanned ground systems, told C4ISRNET.
In situations where there is potential contamination in a building, the military can send in a robot first and it will report back on the status of the situation from up to a kilometer away, he said.
Centaurs have been deployed in both domestic and conflict situations to investigate hazards, Frost said, adding that they could be used to address unexploded ordinance that needs to be dismantled in Ukraine.
“As the Russians are retreating from some of the areas where Ukraine is making advances, the reports say that they’re booby-trapping,” he said. “Our robots are exactly the right tool to go in and handle those situations safely.”
The Centaur is designed to be modular. Rather than being sold in one configuration, the robot can be reconfigured with different sensors and apparatus so that it can perform a myriad of missions.
Formerly known as Endeavor Robotics, the company previously worked with the Pentagon to provide the military with robots to assist with the detection of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Teledyne partnered with the Army in 2017 to provide Centaurs. In the years following, the Navy, Air Force and Marines opted to deploy the Centaur system. Orders have totaled more than 1,800 since 2020.
The company also supplies the Army with its Kobra robot, a heavy version of the Centaur. It’s also used for explosive ordnance disposal and other heavy-duty jobs and can carry more payload. Unlike the Centaur, which only weighs 160 pounds, the Kobra weighs more than 500 pounds, making it less portable.
On Thursday, the company announced that it received new orders for the Centaur system worth $62.1 million. Deliveries of the robots are expected to begin in the first quarter.
Looking ahead, Frost said the company is working with the government to explore the option of bolting on an additional arm so the two appendages could use tools in tandem and complete more complicated manipulations.
Catherine Buchaniec is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where she covers artificial intelligence, cyber warfare and uncrewed technologies.