New robotics obstacle course at Fort McCoy trains Soldiers in vital safety skill
Sgt. Scott Sims closely observes the operation of two Talon robots on the new robotics obstacle course at Fort McCoy's Contingency Operating Location Freedom. Sims is an Observer-Controller-Trainer with the 181st Infantry Brigade at Fort McCoy, Wis.

FORT MCCOY, Wis. -- A new robotics obstacle course at Fort McCoy's Contingency Operating Location Freedom is training Soldiers in a skill that is vital to safety.

Observer-Controller-Trainers, or OCTs, from the 1/338th Training Support Battalion drove four Talon robots in, around, through and over the 100-foot-by-100-foot course, hunting hidden improvised explosive devices during familiarization training.

"We use the Talons to locate, interrogate (investigate), identify and neutralize suspicious objects, possible IEDs," Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Culver said. Culver is the noncommissioned officer-in-charge and IED-Defeat master trainer at the 1/338th. The 1/338th is one of the five support battalions of the 181st Infantry Brigade that conducts mobilization training at Fort McCoy.

"Using Talons is extremely important to the Soldier," Culver said, "because it, and its family of various robots, takes the place of putting a Soldier in harm's way, in close proximity to an IED, in an extremely dangerous job. Let the Talon do the dangerous work."

OCTs conducted a train-the-trainer course with the Talons as they prepared for the next influx of units coming to Fort McCoy to deploy in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Television cameras on the Talon transmit images back to a viewing screen on a control panel.

The operator uses a joystick to propel the robot in the desired direction and speeds.

A pincer device on the tip of the extendable, mechanized arm allows the operator to pick up or set down objects or probe for suspicious objects, like IEDs or unexploded ordnance.

Talons also may be employed to inspect caves and tunnels.

Reconnaissance and surveillance are among its other capabilities.

"Mobilizing Soldiers will be given some 'stick time' to hone their skills with the Talon and become accurate with it," Culver said. "Most engineer Soldiers already have training on the Talon, so their mobilization training at Fort McCoy will mostly be a refresher."

Most of the Soldiers now at Fort McCoy for deployment training are combat engineer units, and most are organizing into route-clearance patrol units.

Each route-clearance patrol will have a Talon available for use.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16