Mechanical officers help in dangerous standoff

12:23 AM, Feb 1, 2012   |    comments
  • Share
  • Print
  • - A A A +

Greensboro, NC -- A police standoff in the Lindley Park area of Greensboro ended peacefully thanks in part of two robots. Police Chief Ken Miller says the robots played a vital role in the negotiation process. One even helped blow up a door to the home on Westdale Place.

Each robot can cost between $130,000 and $140,000. Back in August 2010, News 2 spoke with the Greensboro Bomb Squad's Sergeant Chuck Brown. Brown explained how the mechanical officers worked. "It can open doors, it can climb stairs," said Brown.

The robots are designed to act and move just like any other police officer on the force. What the machines lack in flesh and blood, they more than make up for in mechanics. "It has a microphone or speaker on it so if it's a barricaded subject, a hostage-type situation, we can actually send a robot in and gather intelligence through the cameras," Brown explained.

Video News 2 shot in 2010 shows the bomb team training with the robots. In it, you can see one robot blow up a door to allow officers to reach whoever is inside. "The robot allows us to send the device in, we don't have to go in in person," said Brown.

He tells us, there are four cameras on the device which allow his team to closely monitor dangerous situations from the safety of a truck.

Hearing Brown detail how the robots are operated, one would think it's like playing a video game. "You have about 30 buttons on the control panels, and you can't just sit down and operate it for the first time safely, and know what you're doing. So it's just getting them some hands on time, seeing the capabilities of the robot working with it, and just kind of getting a feel for what it can and can't do."

But the incidents that call for the mechanical officers are anything but a game. That was especially clear during one incident in 2010 when the robot cracked a lens.

"They're airing in a new part. They can't send me a new arm, new leg, new person," Brown said.

Greensboro police say declined to name some of the limitations of using the robots. But say they always make every effort to end an incident in a peaceful manner - as they did Tuesday night.

SLIDESHOW: Photos from Westdale Place standoff

WFMY News 2

Most Watched Videos