movies afterwards portray police
robots as uncontrollable killing
Another company — Omni
Consumer Products — publicized an
interesting police robot concept called
the C.R.A.B., shown in Figure 4.
Stating that the “robot is an all-in-one
solution for the safety of future
civilization featuring a superb
combination of a patrol police officer,
armed guard, and a patrol police
vehicle without the need of a driver. It
will revolutionize future police force(s)
The designer, Jamie Martin is said
to have derived the design from the
Odetics Odex 1 — a very unique robot
that I first wrote about 11 years ago. I
assume that people still seem to feel
that police forces need a very large
walking robot to intimidate potential
bad guys, and a giant crab-looking
thing is even scarier. It definitely looks
great for a science fiction movie prop.
What do Robots
Offer Security and
Let’s look at an officer’s daily
exposure to deadly force used against
them. Outside of the military and
firefighters, there are few jobs that
expose an employee to the possibility
that they might lose their life on a
daily basis. With that fact in mind, I’ll
examine a few scenarios of police
officers at work.
Last June in Troutdale, Oregon’s
Reynolds High School, two students
were killed: one was the victim, and
the other was the shooter. The
Troutdale Police Department used a
small mobile robot to investigate a
restroom where the ‘shooter’ was last
seen. He was found deceased, but the
police had no way of knowing this
before sending the robot into the
restroom to visually determine the
The robot was not armed and
was just used to give law enforcement
a close-up ‘first person view’ of the
situation without endangering their
own lives. Also known as ‘remote
person view,’ this capability is one of
the law enforcement robot’s most
valuable features. Looking at another
potential scenario, a person in a
typical small American city discovers a
backpack lying in a corner of a public
building. Smartly deciding to not pick
it up or examine it, they notify the
local police department.
The police decide to evacuate the
building and utilize their new ‘robot’
to grasp the backpack. Using remote
control and video feedback from the
robot, they carefully move the
backpack to a safe outdoor area.
Lacking a true ‘disrupter,’ they attach
a standard shotgun to the robot and
remotely trigger the gun aimed at the
A series of shredded Civics,
English, and other textbooks, plus a
mangled video game CD fly through
the air. A high school student learned
a valuable lesson; a police force and a
community breathe a sigh of relief.
What do Police and
Need in a Robot?
Six years ago, I talked with a few
police officers and a security company
— including several that used robots in
their work — and made a list of some
of the basic robot requirements that
these groups had back then, but have
since modified a few of them.
1. Low cost (that is probably a
given for any organization).
2. Ease of operation — minimal
3. Simple to maintain (easy to
diagnose problems, locate, and install
4. Light weight with functional
handles — able to be maneuvered by
one person (or two for larger robots).
5. High resolution color video
system with audio feedback.
6. Two-way audio and video with
LCD display onboard the robot for
interactive remote communications
with a possible suspect.
7. Tether for power and remote
control (reel on a robot?).
8. Manipulator arm with gripper
to pick up or deliver items, break
glass, hold a camera, etc.
9. Ability to easily add additional
capabilities such as an explosive
Additional capabilities might
10. Lightweight fiber optic cable
for reliable control link in EMI areas.
11. Internal battery power option.
12. Able to ascend and descend
13. Able to traverse debris and
uneven surfaces (search & rescue).
14. Weatherized for rain, snow,
and long sun exposure.
15. Ability to right itself if turned
over (smaller robots).
16. Long duration operation — 12
or more hours on a charged battery.
17. Swappable battery pack for
quick operational turnaround.
18. Total autonomous operation.
Police, Security, and
One would think that all three
types of robots could be used
interchangeably, but that is not the
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Advances in robots and robotics over the years.
SERVO 08.2015 77
Figure 4. C.R.A.B. robot concept by
Omni Consumer Products.