LAW ENFORCEMENT ROBOTS
by Tom Carroll
Robots used by different law
enforcement agencies always seem to
make the news. They are a highlight
of police television shows and they are
great action displays for agencies to
take to schools, community meetings,
and other public gatherings to solicit
Detectives Scott Wayne and Larry
Meyer of the Seattle Police
Bomb/Arson Squad demonstrated
their robot at the Seattle Robotics
Society’s Robothon (SRS) a few years
ago. A bomb scare back in July of ’96
was enough to convince the Seattle
City Council to approve the purchase
of the $120,000 robot that they had
just turned down the day before.
Recently, the Port of Seattle Police
took one of their Remotec Andros
robots to a meeting of the SRS for a
demonstration. Figure 1 shows a view
of this sophisticated robot. Needless
to say, the members ‘crawled’ all
over the robot to see the different
components and learn how they
worked together to make this robot
one of the most popular used in law
enforcement. More on this robot later.
Robots With Civilian
There are more differences
between law enforcement and military
robots than there are similarities.
Military robots are in use for far
longer periods of time than law
enforcement robots. Operation of the
military robot may be by a 19 year old
soldier whereas the robots used by
police agencies may be operated by a
senior officer with 10 or more years
on the force.
High reliability is of great
importance for both robots as life or
death situations are the norm. A robot
used by the police or bomb squad to
examine or remove a hazardous item
or to see or communicate with a
suspect are less frequent events,
though potentially as deadly as a
For Law Enforcement
Here are a few possible requirements for a law enforcement robot:
1. Low cost.
2. Ease of operation, minimal
3. Simple to maintain (easy to
locate and install replaceable
4. Ability to right itself if turned
5. Light weight, able to be
handled by one person (or a max of
two for larger robots).
6. Low resolution B&W TV.
7. High resolution B&W or color
TV, lighting, with two-way audio.
8. Trailing cable for power and
78 SERVO 07.2009