How Are Robotics Used in Law Enforcement?

Robots have taken over many of the risky roles that officers used to perform.  We answer the question of, are robotics used to keep law enforcement safe by giving real world examples.  The growth of the robot industry has been fueled by the desire to remove humans from dangerous situations.

Companies and governments have been looking to reduce their costs of doing business for years.  Especially in industries that are known to have higher than average hazardous conditions.  This growth is presenting a deficiency in the pool of potential candidates to fill the support roles required.

Having the robots in the field is a great resource, but if there aren’t enough trained technical staff to support them.  Then we run the risk of the technology not being put to good use.  Organizations aren’t going to buy the robot if they can’t get adequate support.

The robotics field is exploding and now is the time to engage and learn what you can to fill a much-needed role.  Robotics technicians and engineers are highly paid and sought after.  Many times the Law Enforcement agency will employee you.  This gives them someone on staff to provide the needed maintenance.

You can also research new and improved uses their officers can get out of the technology.  For those of you interested in a job behind the scenes in law enforcement.  Robots are a great way to provide a service to the community and make a very good living doing so.

Bomb Threats

We see it in the news all the time now.  A dangerous situation errupts and law enforcement officers are running into danger to help people.  Many times they are doing this with very little knowledge or visibility of the issue(s).

There are many areas where robotic technology is helping to be the front-line

 defense for these officers.  One area that robots have emerged supreme is bomb threat determination and disposal.  We don’t like to look at it but our awareness is heightened when we see something out of the ordinary.

A bag or package that is out of place.  Used to be the area would be quardened off.  Officers in very bulky bomb suits would go to the suspicous item.  The danger the officer is subjected to has gone from medium to extreme as they investigate the package for any sign of explosive material.

Removing humans from this equation has been a large effort behind the robotic emergence into the Public Safety Sector’s arsenal.

Point of Entry

Probably the most dangerous part of law enforcement is that intital entry into a dwelling.  Serving an arrest warrant or making entry on a barrakaided subject is where many officers are injured if not worse.  Using robots for these initial actions of breaching a doorway allows officers to hang back.Image of Throwbot

Many times if the suspect uses lethal force the shock of seeing the robot will distract them from the officers rushing in.  Allwoing them to subdue the individual(s) without anyone being harmed.  Robot technology has provided a safety net for officers that are engaging them.

Those couple of seconds from initial breach to officer entry can absolutely mean the difference between life and death for an officer.  Being in the driver seat of the robotic technology these departments are using can give true job satisfaction.

When you see the robot you have either programmed to handle a specific situation or you are remotely controlling the robot in a new situation, and it does the job well.  That is satisfaction.  You know your job means something and those officers that entered the dwelling safe know it too.

Surveillance and Point of View

Setting up small robotic devices around a parameter can provide line of sight and intelligence law enforcement couldn’t get in other way.  Now with the new smaller sized robots they can be placed in areas that are plainsight, but not noticable unless you knew what to look for.

New software and hardware advances have allowed these robots to take many forms and to be able to blend in completely.  All while providing a computer feed to officers that may or may not be in the area.

Unlike human officers these robots don’t have to take bathroom or lunch breaks.  They don’t get tired and are able to provide 24 hour 7 days a week observation. 

Imagine being a police officer working a high crime area.  Having a camera mounted is a good deterent, but not flexible.  Using a robotic device that can climb a pole, or to hide in a tree close to the parameter of the facility provides better results.

This allows for continuous monitoring of the trouble area and moving the robot to a new location if the needed.  Having this technology onsite allows for better understanding of numbers of occupants and approximation of where suspects are in the dwelling.

Safety for the officers and apprehension of suspects is paramount.  Being able to effect a high risk warrant with little or no injuries provides law enforcement improved community relations.  This is yet another area where specialists are needed to provide these skills.

As the technology continues to mature and improve these uses will become even more important.  Learning now to provide these skillsets can put you ahead of the onslaught of new technicians entering the industry.

Skills Needed

Throughout this post, I have mentioned the need to build the skills.  One of the best ways to start learning is to get your own robot to learn to start learning.  Many of the robots available aren’t just remote controlled, but also have Software Development Kits (SDKs) for programming the robot’s interface.

The robot by XiaoR is a good kit to purchase to get an idea for what a robot in the law enforcement industry would be like.     The programming interface uses Linux Mate and Python. 

Being able to program the robot is an important part of your learning process.  You will need to understand how to control the device with a remote, but having the device operate autonomously is driving the technology advances.

Image of Robotics Book

There is a great book for robotics called Introduction to Robotics mechanics and control.  The book covers what you need to know to understand the robotics industry.  The value available in the pages of the book makes it a must read for anyone entering the robotics industry.

There is an MIT video on YouTube that does a great job of introducing the subject of programming robots.  This is not a short video, but if you are serious about robots.  The five-hour video is necessary watch not to mention it’s a free MIT class.

You can’t beat free education.  Especially from a top school.  The video was uploaded in February of 2016 but is still very much relevant.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *