A high-tech robot developed by Martin Marietta Corp. i Baltimore for loading weapons and spying on the enemy on battlefields is getting a tryout in a non-military job: handling radioactive waste.
A prototype of the Teleoperated Robotic Excavator -- T-Rex to friends -- will be tested at a federal nuclear laboratory. If it passes, the machine could be used to excavate and move barrels of nuclear waste buried at Idaho Falls, Idaho.
Moreover, cousins of T-Rex could find themselves employed in a wide range of jobs handling hazardous material, says Charles Manor, spokesman for Martin Marietta. The company, like many defense contractors, is looking for new uses for its products as the Defense Department scales back its purchasing.
"We are looking for other government agency, and non-Department of Defense applications," Manor says.
T-Rex is a descendant of other prototypes built for the military to load and unload weapons, undertake reconnaissance and JTC perform other duties where humans could be put at risk.
The radioactive-waste job is part of a $3.3 million contract Martin Marietta announced last week. The agreement calls for a Baltimore-built prototype robot to be delivered in 1993 to the National Engineering Laboratories at Idaho Falls.
T-Rex has a rotating cab an arm-like device that can grab barrels, shovel dirt and do other jobs. Operators control the robot through a fiber-optic cable.