Alex Cronin/ Contributing Writer
Disabled police officers and military veterans may now have a chance to get back into action.
The University’s Discovery Lab, under the School of Computing and Information Sciences, is partnering with Lt. Cmdr. Jeremy Robins of the U.S. Navy Reserve to bring this plan to realization.
Called the “Telebot Project,” Robins donated $20,000 and borrowed two robots from the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. The plan is to use the robots to bring thousands of disabled police officers and military veterans back into the workforce.
The project is led by the heads of the Discovery Lab: Jong-Hoon Kim, Nagarajan Prabakar and Sundaraja Sitharama Iyengar. The student developers are Irvin Cardenas, Lazaro Herrera, Frank Hernandez, Leo Shao, Uwe Cerron, Daniela Sanchez, Francisco Peleato, Mangai Prabakar, Fernando de Zaya, Justin Rodriguez, Eduardo Dennis and Jorge Andrade.
The first version of the plan, started on July 1, is dubbed “0.1” and will be ready by the end of the year. The second version, “1.0” is expected by the end of 2013 and a field test version is expected in early 2014.
“Many policemen become injured while patrolling unsecure areas,” Cardenas said. “Those sort of jobs have a lot of demand in the community. Disabled veterans have useful skills, can take these jobs and make the community feel safer.”
The problem, however, is making a robot that can intimidate and display a sense of authority. The robot is remote-controlled by the disabled officer but the voice that comes from the robot is the officer’s.
The Discovery Lab is working on making the robot intimidating while also approachable enough that a small child would not be afraid to interact with it. Remote-controlled robots are currently used by the military and business applications. The developers’ goal is the eventual ability of the robots to write parking tickets.
Another challenge is that these robots will replace real police officers and put many people out of work, as robots have done in other sectors, such as the auto industry.
Cardenas does not think these robots will take the jobs of police officers.
“Disabled veterans have their pensions and can get an extra job and more money and serve the community as well. Most veterans want to get into the workforce and the hope is that with this robot they can. Usually, robots take away jobs. This one will give jobs back,” Cardenas said.
The goal of the project is to get these robots to be mobile enough to venture into unsecure areas that are dangerous or otherwise impossible for a human officer to enter.
The Discovery Lab is currently working with the two-wheeled, military grade IHMCs as a prototype, but the design may change as the developers decide what is the best look for the robot in an urban environment.
An old car without licence plates, at 50 mph, will do the job.
If these things hit the streets, I will be destroying them as fast as they make them. Fight the police state! This is the USA, a FREE country, and some of us are going to keep it that way, even if we have to take out every one of these things and those who create them and unleash them on us. How about putting the same energy into taking care of homelessness, poverty and education? I guess its easier to destroy and intimidate citizens via a mechanized police state…