A high tech robot which will boost the ability of bomb disposal experts to find and deactivate improvised explosive devices on the front line has been delivered to Afghanistan.

Under a contract worth £12m with QinetiQ UK, around 100 Dragon Runners have been ordered, providing troops with a lightweight, backpackable, multi-terrain robot capable of detecting a variety of devices without putting the operator in harm’s way.

It is already proving its worth against the threat of roadside bombs.

It is highly manoeuvrable, and when configured with a manipulator arm can dig around suspicious objects as well as pick them up and move them.

It also has the ability to place small charges to disrupt suspect devices, and further enhancements, including the incorporation of wire-cutters, have been implemented.

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies, said:

“The MOD is committed to delivering the best equipment for our forces on the front line in order that they can carry out their job as safely as possible.

“The threat posed to our forces by improvised explosive devices is evolving, they are now the weapon of choice for an insurgency which has been defeated time and time again in conventional warfare. Overcoming them is Defence’s top priority.

“Dragon Runner is an excellent addition to the golf bag of tools that are available to our bomb disposal experts in the Armed Forces and we will continue to develop that kit as new technologies emerge.”

Four cameras onboard the vehicle relay images back to the operator via a hand-held controller. The display can show a single view at a time or all four views in quad screen mode for greater situational awareness. The controller is said to be very intuitive to use and can easily be picked up by the ‘PlayStation’ generation of today.

The contract with Qinetiq UK for the 100 Dragon Runners was awarded as part of an Urgent Operational Requirement.