The School of Information Communication and Engineering Technologies (SICET) is creating a prototype of a low-cost hazard assessment robot for police and fire departments. The robot will be used in situations where there are potential dangers to first responders or the public.
IntroductionCurrently there few robots specifically for surveillance or hazardous material operations. Most robots available are designed for bomb disposal; they are large, slow and heavy, often requiring large transport vehicles and special ramps.
These bomb disposal systems are also expensive (ranging in cost from $79,000 to $350,000).
To meet the needs of police and fire departments, a new robot must be able to accurately assess hazardous environments, such as hostage or chemical spill situations, before the first responders move in. It must:
- operate by remote control
- carry small equipment
- be lightweight enough for individuals or a small team to easily use the system
- be easily transported
- have 1–2 hours of operating time
- have a video and audio communications system
- have fail-safe operation
- survive hazardous environments
- be self-righting
- have replaceable components, including:
- control systems
The prototype developed by SICET is faster, lighter, more agile and lower cost than existing bomb disposal systems. Prototype highlights include:
- all-wheel drive
- zipper-mast mounted camera that extends more than 3 metres high
- simple remote control through a video game controller
- pushes open doors
- rolls over curbs
- cruises at 16 km/h
- weighs only 100 pounds
The projected cost is approximately $10,000. The first prototype has been tested, and an advanced version is in progress. Watch video of the first prototype test.
Using robots for tactical operations provides police and fire departments with key information without having to send a person into a potentially risky situation. This has a number of benefits:
- First responders will be able to plan strategies based on real knowledge of a situation.
- Police will be able to determine if firearms are involved, providing an option of less than lethal force.
- Optional sensors for determining toxic chemical and biohazard levels will ensure fire departments can respond appropriately to chemical spills.
Maintenance costs will be kept low by using replaceable components, so if one piece is damaged the whole system won’t need to be replaced. As an effort is being made to use parts that are easily accessible, there will be little downtime when the system does need to be repaired.