Law enforcement are now using robots to save police officers’ lives in threatening situations like the recent Dallas sniper attack as well as the San Bernardino shooting last year that left 14 people dead and 22 seriously injured.
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“We love that robots are saving people’s lives and keeping people out of harm’s way,” Sean Bielat, CEO of Endeavor Robotics, tells FOXBusiness.com.
Bielat runs the Boston-based company, which is the leading supplier of battle-hardened unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) worldwide.
“We have sold over 6,000 systems throughout the U.S military as well as foreign militaries with a few hundred in law enforcement around the country,” he adds. “But we don’t know which one was used in the Dallas attack. It’s hard to track whose robots are where.”
Dallas Police Chief David Brown told reporters Friday that they used a robot with an explosive device to kill a suspect involved in an ambush against police officers.
The suspect was holed up inside a parking garage for several hours overnight before the robot moved in after all negotiations had stalled.
"We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was," Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings told reporters. "Other options would have exposed our officers in grave danger."
Bielat says one of their robots was used as part of the police response to the San Bernardino shooting last December, where 80 people were attacked in a rented banquet room during an ISIS-inspired act of terrorism.
“A robot was used to check to see if there were active shooters inside,” says Bielat. “It helps law enforcement without putting their own people at risk.”
The devices do come at a hefty price tag of about $100,000 each, which is hard for some law enforcement branches to afford. They are also remotely operated by an agent, which requires additional training.
Endeavor Robotics, formerly known as iRobot Defense & Security, sells two types of models to law enforcement.
“Most law enforcement are interested in the FirstLook (5 lbs) and PackBot (65 lbs),” adds Bielat.
The 110 FirstLook is a rugged and expandable robot that can be thrown and provides immediate situational awareness, performs observation and investigates dangerous and hazardous material.
The 510 PackBot is a much bigger robot that can perform bomb disposal as well as detect hazardous materials. It can also climb stairs and navigate narrow passages, relaying real-time video and audio while keeping the operator far from harm’s way.
Bielat says he often receives letters of gratitude from police officers and bomb SWAT operators for helping to keep them safe.
“I think at first people were reluctant about using them, but over time they saw the advances of these robots and they see that someone doesn’t have to put on a bomb suit and put themselves in danger anymore.”