University of Alabama students build robots to work with police

New crime-fighting robots in Tuscaloosa

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - University of Alabama researchers hope robots could one day become a critical piece of equipment for police officers.

UA students are using money from a National Science Foundation grant to build robots with audio and video equipment police can use to talk to each another, the public and even dangerous suspects. These robots could go into places where it may be too dangerous for police and relay important information back to them.

“We are hoping that our human interactive robots will make a safe environment by distancing civilians and officers from dangerous situations,” according to Dr. Nader Jalili.

“Someone’s perception might be limited based on the threat in front of them and having a robot might show them someone has a weapon in their hand or their hiding something,” Dr. Darrin Griffin said.

They want to build robots that are cheaper than most models which now cost between $200,000 to $300,000.

“We’re trying to achieve affordable robots that are smaller in scale and more accessible for individual law enforcement officers. So when we think about it in the future, it might be the potential for every patrol car to potentially have a small robot,” Griffin continued.

They’re working with departments like Tuscaloosa Police to get ideas of what to include with these robots to make them more useful. This is year one of a three year study. The leaders of the group working on the projects say they’re still years away from having robots that can do everything they would like for that low price.

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