Los Alamos National Lab introduces new robotic team member

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LOS ALAMOS, N.M – Los Alamos National Lab is welcoming a new robotic member to its emergency hazmat team.

With mechanical arms that can reach out and grab hazardous materials ranging from chemical, energetic, radiological, toxic or biological – it can do it all.

"There’s no other robot on the market that can do what this robot can do," said Charles Gibson, a LANL hazmat specialist.

All the robot operator has to do is sit at a panel that’s equipped with a lot of controls, including a joystick and a monitor.

"The challenge comes from depth perception. You’re looking through a camera, and you’re approaching something, so sometimes robot operators will go in for the grab so to speak, and they’ll just be short. Completely miss it and open back up," said Dan McDonald, a LANL hazmat specialist.

The new robot can also open doors, enter rooms to put itself right near the hazardous material, so humans can stay far away.

“Using a robot in general allows me to manipulate actions at the response directly without having to put myself in danger," said McDonald.