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Virtual shooterDHS S&T completes Virtua Shooter robotic device, delivers it to ICE

Published 21 May 2015

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) the other day announced the successful completion of a robotic device that tests multiple types of handguns and ammunition. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will use the device to supplement manual testing of the weapons by laboratory staff.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) the other day announced the successful completion of a robotic device that tests multiple types of handguns and ammunition. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Firearms and Tactical Programs (OFTP) Armory Operations Branch (AOB) agents will use the device to supplement manual testing of the weapons by laboratory staff.

“The OFTP AOB tests and evaluates most of the Department’s ammunition and firearms before they are approved for use in the field. This repetitive firing takes a toll on the shooters and results in stressed joints, debilitating pain, and other physical injuries,” explained S&T First Responder Group (FRG) program manager John Price. “The Virtual Shooter will go a long way in reducing, if not eliminating, those injuries.”

DHS S&T says that the OFTP AOB assists ICE and other DHS agencies by providing firearms, ammunition, intermediate force weapons, protective equipment, training, guidance, as well as tactical and logistical support. The unit provides armory services to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Federal Protective Service under shared service agreements. OFTP AOB increases safety and improves the tactical proficiency of DHS law enforcement, while maintaining accountability for property.

“The OFTP AOB mission is to improve the safety of the armed DHS agent or officer,” explained ICE OFTP AOB Supervisory Engineer Lowell Johnson. “The Virtual Shooter will benefit us by reducing debilitating injuries to our employees, as well as being an instrument to give us consistent data on firearm and ammunition performance.”

The Virtual Shooter project began June 2012. FRG developed the Virtual Shooter as part of the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) initiative and began working to develop a device with designs that simulated the movements and reactions of humans firing, while responding to feedback provided by OFTP AOB throughout the development process. The intent is to ultimately make Virtual Shooter commercially available to other law enforcement agencies and industry.

OFTP AOB will begin to integrate the Virtual Shooter into its testing process in the near future.