The Wheelbarrow is a remotely controlled robot designed in 1972 for use by British Army bomb disposal teams operating in Northern Ireland (321 EOD), mainland Britain (11 EOD Regiment) and Iraq.

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  • The Wheelbarrow is a remotely controlled robot designed in 1972 for use by British Army bomb disposal teams operating in Northern Ireland (321 EOD), mainland Britain (11 EOD Regiment) and Iraq. Over 400 have been destroyed in operation, and they are considered to have saved the lives of hundreds.Major Robert John Wilson ‘Pat’ Patterson (1924 – 2003) conceived the idea in the aftermath of a period (1971 – 72) when the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) lost eight ATOs (Ammunition Technical Officers) on active duty in Northern Ireland. An appalling rate of attrition due to the limited options available to an operator faced with an IED.As head of the RAOC’s Bomb Disposal School (CAD Kineton, Warwickshire) Pat’s invention of the ‘Pigstick’, a device which fires an explosively-propelled jet of water to disrupt the circuitry of a bomb and disable it, had just begun to be used by the ATOs in Northern Ireland. Knowing that a bomb, particularly one in a car, would be best neutralised from a distance to ensure the safety of both the ATO and members of the public he and his team developed a remote controlled go-kart that could:1 – be capable of attaching tow ropes to suspect cars in relative safety. Once a tow rope had been attached it was a simple matter to pull the suspect vehicle to a position where, should the car bomb explode, it would be less likely to cause injuries or major damage to property.2 – enable the Pigstick to be utilised so as to neutralise the bomb.The crude prototypes produced at CAD Kineton proved difficult to manoeuvre so a team at the then Military Vehicles and Engineering Establishment (MVEE, Chertsey) was tasked to improve the tracking and steering. The team included John 'Peter' Miller (1912 – 2006), a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Tank Corps, who had previously modified his own lawnmower to mow independently with the aid of a lanyard. Remembering how effective it was he returned to his local garden centre to order the chassis and motor of a powered wheelbarrow to incorporate. Once there he was advised by the sales assistant to use the chassis of a battery-operated wheelbarrow instead; hence the origination of the name.The Wheelbarrow has undergone several upgrades, the latest being the Wheelbarrow Revolution. The most notable feature in this model include the 360 degree arm which can be outfitted with various EOD attachments. The Wheelbarrow Revolution is also capable of climbing stairways.
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  • The Wheelbarrow is a remotely controlled robot designed in 1972 for use by British Army bomb disposal teams operating in Northern Ireland (321 EOD), mainland Britain (11 EOD Regiment) and Iraq.
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  • Wheelbarrow (robot)
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