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Real-Life Robocop Helps Wounded Officers And Veterans Get Back To Work

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Published on Feb 12, 2014

Researchers and students in Florida International Univ.'s Discovery Lab have developed the initial prototype of a TeleBot — which combines telepresence and robotics — to allow disabled police and military personnel to serve as patrol officers. The bot is built using relatively inexpensive off the shelf components.

A demonstration of the prototype will take place today, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014 at the Graham Center pit on FIU's Modesto A. Maidique Campus. Unlike the RoboCop of the movie that premieres this week, the FIU TeleBot is not expected to cause damage to life or property.

Researchers and students have worked for more than 18 months to refine technology that will allow a disabled person to control the robot remotely, see everything the robot "sees" and interact with members of the public.

"This kind of project requires a lot of hard work, technical expertise and resources," says Jong-Hoon Kim, director of the Discovery Lab. "We had to build everything from scratch. The students are very motivated and feel like they are making a real contribution."

Having overcome multiple challenges, chief among them proper hand functioning, the team has finished work on a prototype that stands six feet tall, weighs about 75 pounds and can be controlled from a remote location.

The TeleBot project began in 2012 when Jeremy Robins, a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves, donated $20,000 to the Discovery Lab to develop an idea he had to bring disabled law enforcement officers, as well as disabled combat veterans, back to the force.

"What impresses me most about the TeleBot prototype is that most of the work was performed by undergraduate students operating under very tight budget and time constraints," Robins says.

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