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The New Zealand Army's explosive ordnance disposal unit has provided a robot to try to help with the disaster at Pike River mine.

The robot, technically known as a remote positioning device wheelbarrow revolution, NZ Defence Force version, is about two years old. Robots such as this are only used within New Zealand, to help police dispose of potential explosive materials such as old hand grenades or ammunition. They are not used with troops serving overseas, although the Army has similar robots for that purpose.

This particular robot was used during the siege of gunman Jan Molenaar in May last year.

In its most common operational form, the robot has four cameras - two to detect movement and two on the arm for aiming weapons.

The advantage of the battery-powered robot is that it can be operated from a distance. It can be sent to places where it might be dangerous to send people, and can be used to retrieve hazardous objects.