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Friday, August 2, 2013

Mechanical Anti-terrorist Concept (MAC): the Philippines' first bomb disposal robot

The MAC bomb disposal robot
Bomb disposal is the process by which hazardous explosive devices are rendered safe. Bomb disposal is an all encompassing term to describe the separate, but interrelated functions in the military fields of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and Improvised Explosive Device Disposal (IEDD), and the public safety roles of Public Safety Bomb Disposal (PSBD) and the Bomb Squad. Though properly equipped and highly skilled, bomb disposal activities still pose danger to bomb disposal personnel. Thus, remote-controlled robots have been developed to take the hazardous job.

In the Philippines, where terrorism poses a great threat and terrorists often use bombs to create fear among the public, such device is important. The first locally-made bomb disposal robot is MAC (Mechanical Anti-terrorist Concept). It is developed in collaboration between the Philippine National Police and a robotics team from Mapua Institute of Technology and costs roughly $6,100 as of 2008. Its chief designer is Engr. John Judilla, head of the robotics team of MIT and one of the country’s top engineers in the multidisciplinary field of mechatronics and who is also a naval reserve officer.

MAC is two feet tall, three feet wide and five feet long. It is made of aluminum, fiberglass, and engineering plastic. It is equipped with a mobile arm that can lift objects weighing up to 11 pounds. It features a front and rear cameras and has a night-vision capability. The four wheeled vehicle runs off motorcycle batteries, and can move at up to four meters a second or 15 kilometers per hour. Though MAC is controlled via a 150 foot cable, with the operator viewing the video feed on a laptop it can also be operated via remote control depending on the situation. MAC, which weighs about a hundred pounds, can carry up to 44 pounds of equipment, and future versions will carry different types of equipment.
Engr. John Judilla, MAC's chief designer

MAC was presented to the public in October 2008 and inducted into the Makati City police force conferred a Police Inspector rank equivalent to a captain in the military. In the same month, MAC won as the grand champion during the year’s World Cup of Computer Implemented Inventions Competition held in China.

In November of the same year, the Philippine Navy expressed interest to acquire enhanced and navalized version of MAC capable of operating in water under Project Smart. Funding for the project was taken under the Self-Reliance Defense Program (SRDP) 2009 budget of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) modernization.

If MAC will be put into mass production with lower production costs, quality engineering and talented individuals to develop further the technology, Philippines will become a source of a cheap alternative to countries that need bomb disposal robots that can’t afford expensive units from developed countries like the United States.

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