Robocop Becomes Reality at SAPD
The San Angelo Police Department took another step into the technological age on Monday, when a new robot purchased with Byrne Justice Assistant Grant money arrived at the department.
The Concho Valley Council of Governments issued the PD the grant, which can be used for a variety of things, Lt. Tracy Fincher said. Fincher explained that the department had chosen to purchase the robot after having demoed one several years back.
“It’s a very unique piece of equipment that we plan to utilize on any number of applications, ranging from maybe a hazardous spill that we need to get up close to and take a look at to a barricaded subject in a residence,” he said. “The possibilities are pretty open.”
In addition to being able utilize the robot in the aforementioned situations, Fincher also said the investment will provide for officer safety and cut costs. When officers are sent to handle a barricaded subject, he said, they often have to spend several hours attempting to engage the suspect. Sometimes, the atmosphere inside the house can be violent, he said. Now, the PD will have the option of sending the robot in, thus keeping the officers safe and cutting back on man hours.
The robot itself is a small, rover-like device with tracks on each side and two cameras, one of which is used to drive, so that officers can see where it’s going, the other of which is covered with a dome on top of the robot. The top camera is high-quality and can pan, tilt, zoom and provide 360 degree coverage, Fincher said.
Currently, the police are in the training process. Several officers will be trained to proficiency so that there is always someone available to operate the rover should it be needed.
As for a name for the new team member, Fincher laughed, “It comes called the Avatar II, but we’re probably going to have to give it it’s own unique name…maybe we can have a robot naming competition in our department.”
The PD has yet to use the robot for any work in the field, but have been mastering the use of the controls by driving it around the parking lot and testing its capabilities. The device is sturdy, and can be driven on and off curbs, as well as climb stairs.
“The department feels we can utilize it in various different division of the department,” Fincher said.
Below is a short video of the robot in action.
Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily newsletter, The LIVE! Daily.