Engineers with Charlie Company, 2nd “Spartan” Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, took part in a robotics certification Jan. 15-16 at Fort Hood.

Eight Spartans trained and certified using the TALON GEN IV Robot in preparation for future assignments overseas while enhancing their engineering trade.

Robotic technicians instructed the engineers on the features, functions and basic operations of the Talon, said Staff Sgt. Xavier Smith, a robotic technician with the Robotic Systems Joint Project Office in Warren, Mich.

Engineers also completed a five-stage obstacle course using the Talon to earn certification.

The course allowed engineers to use all facets of the Talon, to include properly using the mechanical arm, gripper, cameras and track flexibility, Smith said. However, certifying is only part of the importance to knowing these robots.

“When properly certified, these robots are an additional tool for the engineers to use to safely navigate through any theater of operations,” Smith said. “We have an unofficial motto here: ‘Saving lives remotely.’”

Army engineers stress safety during reconnaissance and route clearance missions with the Talons being utilized to keep any threats from suspected ordinance at bay.

“The robot (identifies), integrates and diffuses any suspected known, unknown improvised explosive devices,” Smith said. “It is durable under various geographic terrains and various climates.”

Pfc. Steven Klein, a combat engineer, had never used the robots, but had heard of their capabilities and how engineers in combat operations utilize them.

“Knowing the robots capabilities, I was excited for the opportunity to become certified to use them,” Klein said. “It was a great experience that I can use to train other soldiers on and it will help save our lives.”

In addition to saving soldiers lives, Klein said reducing damage to vehicles with early detection of suspected objects on the road is something the robots will be vitally important for.

“The benefits of using robots during missions are tremendous. I believe every unit conducting patrols overseas should have one or have soldiers certified in using them,” Klein said.

Klein is thankful for the knowledge gained from the instructors and ready to stay abreast of any improvements or changes to the Talon.

“I will continue with refresher courses as needed and practice with the Talon whenever needed,” Klein said. “You can’t have too much time learning about or using the robots.”

If interested in training on a Talon or another robot currently taught at Fort Hood, units should contact their operations departments to schedule the class, Smith said. Classes are held weekly with familiarization courses scheduled on a case-by-case basis.

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