Autonomous Robotics for Law Enforcement
Aside from potentially armed criminals, meth labs can present officers with a multitude of dangerous situations, particularly if the lab is in a dangerous cooking mode with cyanide gas present.
Automated robots, which can be given an assigned task to execute, without needing to be directly controlled by an officer, may soon provide an excellent, safe way for officers to enter a suspected meth lab.
Using sensors, robots would be able to detect if there are any people in the lab and if they are armed or agitated, as well as test the air in the lab for the presence of hazardous materials, all autonomously, allowing the officers to maintain situational awareness.
Automated robots could also be used to continuously monitor a site or even potentially protect a injured officer.
A number of questions remain as to how the robot will distinguish between friendly civilians and hostile suspects, or if the robot should be equipped with any type of weaponry. Some suggest that automated robots would be used in a similar manner as a K-9 police dog, acting as an assistant to the officer, but more than a remote-controlled tool.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from Law Enforcement Technology (02/07); Vol. 34, No. 2, P. 66; Weiss, Joseph.