A Remotec robot was used to deliver an explosive device that killed Dallas shooting suspect Micah Johnson last week, but it’s not clear if the machine was made in Clinton.
Remotec was founded in Oak Ridge in 1980 to consult with the nuclear industry on remote handling. It’s now part of Northrop Grumman, and the company describes itself as the industry leader in hazardous duty robotics, including for the military, first responders, and law enforcement. Remotec has locations on JD Yarnell Parkway in Clinton and in the United Kingdom.
In a television interview on Sunday and at a press conference on Monday, Dallas Police Chief David Brown said two officers used a Remotec ANDROS Mark 5A-1 robot to deliver one pound of C-4 explosive and a detonation cord to kill Johnson, who fatally shot five officers in a Thursday ambush and wounded others.
Johnson, a 25-year-old Army veteran, was inside the El Centro College, on the second floor, in downtown Dallas when the robot was deployed, the Dallas Police Department said.
The DPD said it used its bomb robot as a last resort and placed a device on its extension that could detonate at Johnson’s location, after negotiations with the cornered suspect failed in an exchange of gunfire.
“Other options would have exposed our officers to grave danger,” Brown said at a Friday morning press conference, according to CNN.
It’s reported to be the first time such a tactic was used in the United States. Brown has said he would do it again if presented with the same circumstances. He said Johnson was determined to hurt more officers.
“We believe that we saved lives by making this decision,” Brown told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday.
Besides the five officers who died in the shooting by Johnson, nine were injured, as were two civilians.
Northrop Grumman declined to comment about the Mark 5A-1 robot and referred calls to the Dallas Police Department.
The Dallas Police Department said it has released all the information it has about the machine. Among other questions, Oak Ridge Today asked if the Mark 5A-1 was made in Clinton.
During the Monday morning press conference, Brown said the DPD bought the Remotec robot for $151,000 in 2008. There is partial damage to the robot’s extension arm, but the machine is still functioning, Brown said.
Information posted on the Northrop Grumman website says the Mark 5A-1 has cameras, a gripper that can rotate, a manipulator arm, articulating tracks, quick-release pneumatic wheels, fiber-optic cable, hard tether cable, and wireless radio control.
CNN said robots are common inside police departments, and they are generally used to disable explosive devices or disorient and incapacitate suspects that are barricaded. To do this, the robot generally carries a flashbang, a device that emits a bright light and loud sound. Sometimes these robots are used to place an explosive near a bomb in order to disarm it via explosion.
The Mark 5A-1 is driven by a human via remote control, weighs 790 pounds, and has a top speed of 3.5 mph, The Washington Post reported. It carries a camera with a 26x optical zoom and 12x digital zoom. When its arm is fully extended, it can lift a 60-pound weight. The “hand” at the end of the arm can apply a grip of about 50 pounds of force.
CNN said similar models are used overseas to disable explosive devices in places such as Iraq.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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