MUSCATATUCK URBAN TRAINING CENTER, Ind. - Soldiers assigned to the 20th Support Command (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives or CBRNE) tested an advanced ground sample collection platform at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center, Ind., Aug. 6-7.

Developed by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the advanced robotic equipment is designed to allow operational forces to perform radiation reconnaissance and ground sampling missions after a nuclear detonation.

Chemical specialists assigned to the 20th SUPCOM were responsible for operating the robotic system and testing its capabilities.

"We're in the staging and validating stage of a new robotics platform; the main focus we're trying to do out here is try to establish a system to use more robotics and less personnel," said Sgt. Michael Nelson, a CBRNE specialist assigned to Company A, 22nd Chemical Battalion, 48th Chemical Brigade, 20th SUPCOM.

The base vehicle, developed by TORC Robotics, consists mainly of a Polaris MVRS equipped with autonomy functions. The soldiers tested each of the system's features including its robotic arm, radiation detectors and sample storage tray.

Upon validation, the AGSCP robot can possibly be used in the place of military personnel, which reduces the need to send soldiers into a contaminated area.

"It's one of the things that can save more troops if they have to go into a (contaminated) area," said Nelson, a native of Fort Worth, Texas. "Not only will this robot be able to save personnel, but it will also save time on target."

Using a commercial dual joystick remote controller, the operators were capable of maneuvering the robotic vehicle to multiple venues on Muscatatuck and collect material samples using the robotic arm.

The robot is also outfitted with multiple cameras, which allow the operator to observe the AGSCP's surroundings for physical security purposes, and to effectively operate the mechanical arm.

During the training venue, soldiers acting as observer controllers evaluated the robotic system's functions as they simulated collecting sample and driving in a CBRNE environment.

"From a structural perspective, given a urban environment that's been hit with a nuclear weapon there are a lot of hazards we wouldn't want to send our guys into; and that's the purpose of developing this type of equipment," said Capt. Luke Moen, a native of Fairfield, Maine, operations officer assigned to the 20th SUPCOM.

The 20th SUPCOM soldiers are scheduled to complete their robotic testing of the AGSCP later this week.