updated 07:26 pm EDT, Fri September 28, 2012
Project aims to help disabled police officers back to work
Researchers are working on robotic members of the police force. The Discovery Lab of Florida International University is working with the US Navy Reserves on building telepresence robots, controlled by disabled police officers and members of the armed forces, that could be used to police the streets, according to CNET.
Currently, the project is using $20,000 given by Lieutennant Commander Jeremy Robins as well as two robots valued at $500,000. In the end, the team hopes to have robots that can respond to a wide range of tasks undertaken by the police, ranging from issuing parking tickets to responding to 911 emergencies.
At present, the general design of the robots seems to be the major hurdle. "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," said Robins, while also suggesting the telebot needs to be approachable enough so a lost 3-year-old can interact with the operator without being scared.
Currently, the Discovery Lab is staffed by students and professors who have worked on two-wheeled IHMC robots under a $2 million DARPA initiative. As well as the prototype borrowing heavily from the research done for that project, there have also been requests by the team for NASA to lend a hand, themselves having constructed a humanoid robot that was used in space.