The Electronic Arm Of The Law
Virginia State Police purchased eight robots that can conduct surveillance, remove bombs, and replace officers in dangerous stand-offs. The Northrop Grumman subsidiary REMOTEC robots come in two different sizes and feature a gripper arm, four TV cameras, a listening device, and a two-way audio system, and even can be fitted with a 12-gauge shotgun.
The robots are multi-track-driven and can climb obstacles up to two feet high, and scale stairs at 45-degree angles, according to the manufacturer.
As Virginia State Police’s hazardous devices technician, First Sgt. Vern Hall is specially trained to operate the robots via remote control. He says the robots are easier to replace than a human and are thus used in dangerous situations such as when a disgruntled former employee commandeered a local plumbing company. The robot scanned the building interior and blocked the back door while the SWAT team stormed the building.
A robot was also used to remove and open a hoax bomb, opening the box with its gripper arm and allowing the inside to be viewed through one of the cameras.
In another incident, a robot was used to search the interior of a house for a suspect, eventually locating the person in the attic where officers used tear gas to force him out.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Richmond Times-Dispatch (11/03/04) P. B1; Bowes, Mark .