“Part man. Part machine. All cop. The future of law enforcement.” So read the original movie poster forRoboCop. While taglines like that might inspire you to break out your best movie-trailer voice-over impersonation, know that there may be some truth to your narration.
That’s because researchers at Florida International University’s Discovery Lab are working with Lieutenant Commander Jeremy Robins of the U.S. Navy Reserves to build patrolling, telepresent robots that could be remotely controlled.
“We want to use telebots to give disabled military and police veterans an opportunity to serve in law enforcement,” explained Robins in a university press release. “With telebots, a disabled police officer will be capable of performing many, if not most, of the functions of a normal patrol office[r] — interacting with the community, patrolling, responding to 911 calls, issuing citations.”
To manifest his vision, Robins donated $20,000 of his own money to Discovery Lab and borrowed two robots valued at $50,000 from the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC). Built under IHMC’s Urban Warrior Robot program, a $2 million DARPA initiative, the two-wheeled robots will be the basis for the telecop prototypes.
“The telebot has to look intimidating and authoritative enough so that people obey its commands — because of course it’s not the telebot telling you what to do, it’s the disabled police officer controlling the telebot who’s telling you what to do,” Robins said, according to CNET.
“On the flip side, it has to be approachable enough so that a lost three-year-old feels comfortable coming up to the telebot and asking for help finding her mother. That’s a challenging design problem, and one which I’m sure will take many iterations before we get it perfectly right.”
Credit: Florida International University