iRobot mission rolls to the depot
Tobyhanna Army Depot’s new robotics mission helps warfighters remotely search for improvised explosive devices (IED) using either a laptop computer or backpack control system.
The depot’s System Integration and Support, Production Engineering, and Communication Systems directorates are involved in fabricating and upgrading several components of the iRobot unmanned ground vehicles.
The requirement to upgrade two different robots came as part of a Joint Urgent Operational Needs Statement asking for improved communication capabilities.
Michael Murray, an electronics integrated systems mechanic in the Communication Systems Directorate, says the mission requires a wide range of knowledge and skills.
“This project uses hands-on skills like soldering and manual troubleshooting but also incorporates software-based knowledge,” he said. “Since it is such a new mission and requires a different type of thinking, a total team effort is required to pull all of our skills together and put out a quality product while adapting to customer requests.”
Requests have included fixing a problem with the battery door latches. Increased temperatures would cause the latch to fail, leaving the door unsecured. Had the problem persisted, the robot may not have functioned properly, compromising the safety of the warfighter and his mission. Electronics Worker Nicholas Prehotsky’s solution to replace the ineffective latches with snaps not only fixed the problem, but saved time and money.
Tactical Radio Branch chief Patrick Connolly said adapting to challenges and quickly finding solutions is an integral part of the mission.
“Problems are to be expected, but knowing that warfighters count on our work to keep them safe pushes us to be accountable,” said Connolly. “I’ve never seen a team with so much enthusiasm, dedication and pride.”
Prehotsky noted that his pride for the mission and for supporting the warfighter pressed him to find answers to several of the iRobot’s problems.
“I know that I’m a part of something that directly supports our Soldiers and has the potential to bring even more modern technology to the depot,” said Prehotsky.
To date, Tobyhanna has fielded more than 200 iRobot kits to both systems. Connolly said the response from warfighters has been extremely positive.
“From the reports we have received from the field, our customers are very happy about the work we are doing,” he said. “In turn, that makes us work harder to maintain that level of success because we know this mission saves lives.”
Tobyhanna Army Depot is the Defense Department’s largest center for the repair, overhaul and fabrication of a wide variety of electronics systems and components, from tactical field radios to the ground terminals for the defense satellite communications network. Tobyhanna’s missions support all branches of the Armed Forces.
About 5,400 personnel are employed at Tobyhanna, which is located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tobyhanna Army Depot is part of the U.S. Army CECOM. Headquartered at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., the command’s mission is to research, develop, acquire, field and sustain communications, command, control computer, intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors capabilities for the Armed Forces.
Page Last Updated 25-Oct-2012