N-CART visit to Ontario Provincial Police UCRT

On the April 2, various Computer Science undergraduate and graduate students along with several Electrical Engineering (EE) graduate students accompanied Professor Alex Ferworn to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) and Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear explosive (CBRNe) Response Team (UCRT) headquarters where they were provided with familiarization training in the use of different techniques for safely dealing with and disposing of CBRNe devices.

“We have a great partnership with the UCRT”, said Professor Ferworn, who has been conducting research with the team since 2005. “A lot of our research revolves around creating practical solutions to real-world problems. The safe handling of explosive devices that could cause a serious threat to public safety is one of those problems”, said Christopher Kong, a Computer Science Masters student”. “I am working on better ways of sensing what is going on around CBRNe robots, this is an excellent way of learning how they are actually used so that the system I design might be useful to bomb techs”, said Mark Coatsworth, a CS undergraduate student who is conducting background research for his project in the CPS040 course.

After security checks and a safety briefing, the students proceeded to learn how to operate some of the OPP bomb robots. “The OPP has lent us one of their decommissioned robots. These students have all had significant practice before operating real bomb robots”, said Ferworn. Later in the day, the students were presented with various scenarios revolving around a “suspicious” backpack. They were shown how precision techniques can be used to examine and neutralize devices. “At the end of the day, we blew up the backpack”, reported Ron Wong, an EE Doctoral Student.