Haven’t You Heard of HAVEN?

by Michael Mullaney on March 25, 2010


I’d like to introduce you to HAVEN: a bomb-disposing robot built by a team of our intrepid engineering students.

The project came about after a call from the Albany County Sheriff hazmat team to the good folks in CATS inquiring if Rensselaer students could dream up a better, safer method for diffusing and disposing of bombs. In true Rensselaer fashion, the students succeeded splendidly. As sophomores, they designed and built HAVEN as part of the course Intro to Engineering Design, under the supervision of CATS research engineer Glenn Saunders. Glenn and the students showed off their work to the local press earlier this week.

The old way of opening up bombs, as described by the Albany County Sheriff team, involved fitting a metal pulley over the lid/cover of the bomb, and using rope tied around the pulley to twist it from a distance. This was neither an easy nor a safe task.

HAVEN fully automates this process. The mobile robot, which stands about three feet tall, is placed over the explosive. Via this remote control:

The operator lowers HAVEN’s clamp down over the lid of the explosive device or jar of hazardous substance:


The clamp is then mechanically adjusted to the right size, slowly squeezed the lid of the explosive, and twists it off ever so delicately. It’s a slow process, but slow is good in this kind of situation:

HAVEN then lifts off the lid, which allows the bomb squad or hazmat to better assess the severity and/or nature of the threat, and neutralize it. Often times removing the lid also removes the fuse from the bomb, rendering it disabled.

The operator uses the remote control to perform all of these actions from up to a couple hundred feet away, as the feed from a video camera on HAVEN is displayed on this monitor:

Such a tool is of life-saving relevance to bomb squads, SWAT teams, chemical labs, law enforcement officers, or the armed forces and could help protect these individuals from the dangers of explosive or otherwise harmful materials.

The next step is to perform extensive field testing of HAVEN and expose it to realistic emergency situations, and make appropriates updates and refinements. The team in in the process of patenting their creation, so stay tuned for more info on HAVEN in the future.

Be sure to check out this newspaper story and watch this TV news segment to see video of HAVEN in action.

Here’s the entire HAVEN team: