Key Considerations in Sourcing First Responder Reconnaissance Robots
Primary factors to consider when deciding on the tactical robot for your team
(May 2012 – Randolph, Vt.) As options exist for first responders to achieve visual
intelligence via a range of tactical police robots, there’s a need in the law enforcement and
SWAT community to highlight key factors differentiating these vehicles. While most are
designed to provide “eyes on” from safety, the robots vary widely in realistic capability. For
many departments, capability is paramount to price point or scale of product marketing.
Radio Communication Strength
Not all robots are created equal. Video signal strength and control distance varies widely
between robots depending on line of sight factors and other obstacles. Agencies should test
potential robots to see which will perform best under more common circumstances. A robot
that loses communication inside of structures does not typically deliver valuable
intelligence. Some robots claim a long range, but only in line of sight situations, meaning
video relay is provided into areas already visible.
While “throwbots” may be inexpensive and lightweight, they are also more likely to be
hampered by debris in their path such as clothing or trash. Some robots can push furniture
or doors open while others cannot.
Single Level or Multilevel
Can the robot climb stairs or not? How high can each stair be? Decide if your team would
like this capability or not and then act accordingly. Are special control skills required to
negotiate stairs or is it automated on the OCU is another relevant question.
Speed and Terrain
Robots vary widely in their crawl and top speeds. They also perform to varying degrees on
varying types of terrain. Consider sand, snow, rocks, grass, mud and perforated ground
types. Not every need for visual intelligence will be on a smooth surface.
Some robots have enough girth and power to also act as a delivery system into dangerous
zones for items like water, food, or cell phones. Some can tow a trailer or sled with a
Repair and Service
Service after the sale is important, especially for robots that get used in the field often. Some
providers keep a loaner available in cases of repair.
Custom Attachments and Solutions
Some companies are willing to work with their customers to create custom add-ons and
solutions. Others have a set menu.