THE Maharashtra Police’s Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad (BDDS) will soon be able to use a wireless bomb disposal robot, a compact machine that will not only be able to indicate the nature of an explosive device but also be able to defuse bombs. The procurement of two such robots is already underway. “We have finalised the order. The two robots will be part of the BDDS teams and will assist them whenever there is a bomb scare,” Director General of Police (Maharashtra) Satish Mathur told The Indian Express.
Apart from the bomb disposal robots, the Mumbai Police will get full-body bomb suits and a digital wireless application system. Used by many police forces across the world, a bomb disposal robot is equipped with several control applications. For instance, it provides a remote monitoring and controlling application for analysis of a suspicious packet (or bomb). It also allows the user to manipulate the packet using the robotic arm. It can also provide a visual feedback from the site of the packet.
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“It has a set of commands and can be directed to a particular object. It can be mounted with many accessories such as scissors, torches, water dispensers and sometimes even a weapon. It can cover a distance of 100 metres,”said another senior official from the Maharashtra Police. “So it can go into a train, search the train for you. It can also locate a bomb, cut the wires, pick it up and even bring it to you,” the senior official said, adding that the robot will not have a humanoid appearance but is a compact machine.
The Maharashtra Police had some robotics-based machines in the 1990s, but these are now phased out. Meanwhile, the Mumbai Police is also in the process of procuring full-body bomb suits. This too is part of the modernisation programme undertaken by the state government post the November 2008 attacks. “We have just placed orders for modern bomb suits. They are totally different from the old suits and would provide the necessary protection,” added the official. Other than bomb suits, the Mumbai Police control room will be soon upgraded with new digitised wireless application protocol (WAP) system.
“In the present system, one has to manually switch channels and you cannot transmit across Mumbai because of the highrise buildings. We have added one more transponder and we have given them the APCO system. This will make communication seamless. A separate channel can be kept for the senior police officers for emergency response,” added Mathur.
The Mumbai Police’s current wireless technology is on an analog system APCO project 16, where the propriety is with one company and the system has several disadvantages including its lack of compatibility with other radio communication tools. “One of the main features is that an operator could listen to two frequencies rather than the existing method of switching to single frequency at a time,” explained another senior police officer.