What do you get when you outfit a Caterpillar forklift with a gigantic telescopic arm, remote controls, and the ability to bully both vehicles and houses smaller than itself? The LAPD’s ultimate bomb disposal tool: BATCAT.
The BATCAT, or Bomb Assessment Tactical Counter Assault Tool, looks like something out of WayneTech Labs and by all accounts probably should be. The 17,690kg EOD drone is built on the chassis of a Caterpillar Telehandler. These hulking forklifts are rated to lift up to 5400kg at a time and are also equipped with a telescoping arm to lift and place items without moving the vehicle itself. Or, in the BATCAT’s case, pick up explosive devices — the device itself, the car it’s in, whatever — and deposit it safely into a steel EOD chamber for controlled detonation up to 15m away.
What’s more, the BATCAT can be outfitted with a number of tools — everything from claws, buckets and conventional forklift tines to battering rams. The latter has also proven quiet useful in extricating suspects who’ve barricaded themselves in homes — no, not by breaking through the barricade itself, but by tearing through the perp’s walls like a rampaging Kool-Aid Man. The police don’t have to wait for you to come out, not when they can simply make the inside and outside of your house one and the same.
It’s also helpful for (literally) explosive situations. “We can pick up a large vehicle bomb and move where we want without risk to anyone’s life,” LAPD Capt Horace Frank, told the LA Times. “The beauty of this thing is no one needs to get near.” That includes the guy driving this civil service monstrosity because of course it’s remote controlled. The LAPD actually came up with the idea of a large scale R/C EOD vehicle, and is the first department in the country to actually have one built. It’s also not surprising that many haven’t followed suit, given that the BATCAT, with its requisite trailer and accessories, cost the good people of Los Angeles City and County nearly $US1 million.
But despite the cost, the BATCAT is quickly becoming a vital tool in the LAPD arsenal. “You aren’t going to see someone out there unless the bomb is wrapped around a person,” Det. Paul Robi, a bomb squad supervisor and 25-year LAPD veteran, told the LA Times. These days, he said, “it starts with remote and ends with a remote denotation.” And any technology that keeps our police officers out of harm’s way is well worth any price. [Autoblog – LA Times 1, 2 – LAPD]