A detective with the Burnsville Police Department in Minnesota and Tactical R/C founder has created a tactical robot that is much cheaper than alternatives.
Detective Shawn Mahaney’s robot – a remote visualization vehicle – can be used by officers to enter homes or buildings in dangerous situations so officers don’t have to go in blind. Mahaney hopes that the tool will be useful not just for SWAT teams, but also officers on patrol.
Keeping patrol officers safe
“It’s basically similar to a drone. It’s those eyes up front,” Mahaney told Fox 9.
The robot, called the 4Sight, is a four-wheeled robot with a body camera or cell phone attached, which livestreams video back to an officer who controls the robot remotely.
“It basically allows you to have that remote view of a place that may not be safe enough to enter ourselves,” Mahaney said.
The 4Sight costs around $2,500 compared to other tactical robots on the market that typically are priced around $10,000.
Mahaney hopes that police departments will purchase several robots to be distributed among police cars to make police patrols safer.
Currently, tactical robots are reserved for the SWAT team to be used in hostage situations or when responding to bomb threats, partly due to the steep price tag. Check out video of the 4Sight at a burglary scene. Ed. note: Tactical R/C has rebranded the vehicle featured in this video to “4Sight”
“I think it’s a great way to put officers in a position to make smart safe decisions,” Burnsville police officer Sam Lehmann said. Lehmann has already tested the 4Sight in real-life scenarios, such as during a welfare check and a domestic disturbance.
Mahaney added that the robot can be used to reduce confrontations in many situations, including by de-escalating situations with mental health sufferers by allowing them to communicate with a mental health specialist via the robot.
The 4Sight can also be a helpful tool in crisis call situations. With the nationwide call for integrating social workers and mental health professionals into the initial response to crisis calls, there have obviously been questions and concerns about the safety when they respond to sometimes dangerous and violent situations.
Using a cell phone and a video calling app like FaceTime, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom would allow police officers to set up a safe perimeter and send in the 4Sight from a safe distance while providing the subject with a face-to-face conversation with a social worker or mental health professional who are in a safe remote location.
According to Mahaney, officers would no longer have to risk their lives or the lives of the subject in making the location “safe” in order for mental health crisis responders to start doing what they are trained to do.
By incorporating the technologies law enforcement agencies are already paying for, like body cameras and cell phones, the 4Sight makes remote controlled robotic vehicles affordable enough for the ones who need and could most benefit from this technology, patrol officers.
Tactical R/C has sold 4Sight robots to police departments across the country. Learn more at www.tactical-rc.com.