The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has achieved another milestone in technological innovation with the development of Unexploded Ordnance Handling Robots (UXOR). These robots, created by the Research and Development Establishment (Engineers), are on the cusp of being inducted into the Indian Air Force (IAF), offering a cutting-edge solution for defusing unexploded ordnance (UXOs) such as bombs and mortars weighing up to 1,000 kg.

The UXOR, equipped with advanced capabilities and meticulously tested under diverse conditions, has demonstrated its operational prowess during trials at various locations. Makarand Joshi, the Director of R&DE(E), revealed that the robot has not only met but exceeded operational requirements. The IAF’s decision to induct 11 of these robots underscores their confidence in this technology’s potential to enhance their operational objectives.

Transferring the technology to industry partners signifies a significant step in realizing the deployment of these robots. The three industry partners – Hi-tech Robotic in Gurgaon, Sagar Defence in Pune, and Bharat Electronics Limited in Pune – are poised to manufacture and supply the robots to the IAF in the coming years.

The impetus behind developing the UXOR stems from the need to address threats posed by unexploded ordnance in border areas. As exemplified in the 2019 Balakot air strike, UXOs fired by adversaries can remain dormant in these regions, posing risks to defence establishments. The role of these robots becomes crucial in safely defusing such UXOs, thereby mitigating potential dangers.

The technology underpinning the UXOR is a combination of innovation and precision. These remotely-operated robots are capable of diffusing UXOs from a distance of 1 km within line of sight. Equipped with an abrasive water jet cutting machine and two manipulator arms, they can effectively handle heavy UXOs and safely cut their fuses. The robots, boasting a maximum speed of 6 mph and an endurance time of six hours, are equipped with advanced cameras that function seamlessly both during the day and at night.

The significance of timely defusal of UXOs cannot be overstated. Until properly defused, unexploded bombs continue to pose significant threats. The conventional methods used for defusing these devices are often riddled with risk. In contrast, the UXOR introduces a safer and more efficient approach to addressing this challenge, minimizing risks to personnel and surrounding environments.