Robot to extend Police Department’s eyes and ears in tricky situations

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published June 24, 2019

 The Shelby Township Police Department will soon be adding a Throwbot 2 from Recon Robotics to its team.

The Shelby Township Police Department will soon be adding a Throwbot 2 from Recon Robotics to its team.

Photo provided by Recon Robotics

 The Throwbot 2 is a radio-operated, 1.2-pound micro robot that will be used by the Shelby Township Police Department’s Tactical Response Unit to provide audio and video reconnaissance in high-risk situations.

The Throwbot 2 is a radio-operated, 1.2-pound micro robot that will be used by the Shelby Township Police Department’s Tactical Response Unit to provide audio and video reconnaissance in high-risk situations.

Photo provided by Recon Robotics

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — The Shelby Township Police Department will soon be introducing a new micro-robotic technology to the team.

The Shelby Township Board of Trustees on June 18 approved the Police Department’s request to purchase a Throwbot 2 from Recon Robotics, a company that sells tactical micro-robot and personal sensor systems in Minnesota.

The Throwbot 2 is a radio-operated 1.2-pound robot. It is less than a foot wide. It will be used by the department’s Tactical Response Unit to provide audio and video for high-risk situations.

According to the Recon Robotics website, the Throwbot 2 is a throwable micro-robot that enables its operator to obtain instantaneous video and audio both indoors and outdoors. The video and audio functions can be used to locate subjects, determine if they are armed or injured, and reveal the layout of rooms.

“The Throwbot is a tool that will be used by our Tactical Response Unit to aid them in resolving conflicts (or) situations they are called to as peacefully and quickly as possible,” Shelby Township Police Chief Robert Shelide stated in an email.

A barricaded person is one such situation in which the robot could prove helpful.

“The information the Throwbot could provide could possibly decrease the time it takes to make contact with the barricaded person. The information could also possibly lessen the amount of property damage done when dealing with the barricaded person,” Shelby Township Police Capt. Jason Schmittler said via email.

The robot is designed to withstand repeated drops of up to 30 feet onto concrete. It can crawl over a variety of terrains up to 2 inches tall. Kits are available that can increase the ability of the Throwbot 2 to cross obstacles up to 4 inches tall or to carry and tow a combined 4 pounds.

It can be used day and night, and it is water and dust resistant. The Throwbot 2 is equipped with an infrared optical system that automatically turns on when the ambient light is low.

The robot can be mounted to a recon search stick, which will enable the Tactical Response Unit to use it as a pole camera and more safely search areas.

“The Throwbot has an option to convert to a ‘pole camera.’ This option allows it to be used to visually search areas that officers cannot access and/or the Throwbot could not be retrieved if thrown,” said Schmittler.

The Throwbot will cost the department $17,015, which includes an accessory pack and the search stick. The Throwbot will be purchased using budgeted funds from the Police Department’s equipment fund.

Shelide said the department had a few incidents in the recent past where officers could have utilized the Throwbot.

“We have had had two incidents in the past year where we had to respond to barricaded individuals in homes that had made threats to harm others, and we were waiting outside the home with 15 to 20 men for hours on end, and we ultimately found that the barricaded person had killed himself,” he said.

“The Throwbot will eliminate the waiting period and also can help us get medical attention to an individual immediately. The Throwbot has video and audio capabilities that give a feed back to our tactical commanders so they can make informed real time decisions,” said Shelide.

The department has seen the usefulness of a robot firsthand.

“This department had an incident where a neighboring department’s robot was used. Information gathered was extremely useful, but precious time will be wasted waiting for the robot to arrive or sending an officer to retrieve it from the other department. Members of the Tactical Response Unit are assigned to patrol duties and having the Throwbot within the township will be incredibly helpful,” said Schmittler.

Shelide said he strongly believes that the new technology will benefit the officers and he is excited to put it to use.

“The literature for this particular model states that this model is widely regarded as the most rugged and versatile robot on the planet,” he said.

Shelide said he is excited to purchase the Throwbot and get it in the hands of their tactical commanders, who will deploy it as needed.

“The Throwbot is a not a weapon and will not be used ‘against’ our residents in any way, shape or form. It is simply a tool to give us eyes and ears in difficult situations and protect our officers,” Shelide said.

For more information or to view a video about the Throwbot, visit www.reconrobotics.com/products/throwbot-2-robot.

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