In the classic sci-fi action movie "RoboCop" (watch on Netflix), severely injured police officer Alex Murphy returns to duty as a cyborg — a robot body with a human mind. Where the film's fictional doctors placed Murphy's brain into a robotic frame, real researchers at Florida International University (FIU) are looking into ways to return police officers and soldiers to the force by making them the brains behind remote-controlled "telebot" drones.
With the help of a $20,000 donation from Afghanistan vet Lieutenant Commander Jeremy Robins of the U.S. Navy Reserves, FIU's Discovery Lab is looking at ways to adapt two military-grade telepresence robots from Institute for Human and Machine Cognition for police use. The idea is to make them suitable for routine patrols, 911 response, and event issuing citations. As it stands the Urban Warrior Robot (UWR) units aren't much to look at, but FIU's student designers are working to give them sleek, authoritative redesigns while ensuring they're still approachable, even by small children.
When completed, the two-wheeled prototype telebot will enable disabled cops and wounded warriors to see, hear, and speak remotely, but also perform unique actions like printing tickets. Its designers are working to make the completed bot more affordable for individual police departments than the $500,000 original on which it's based.
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