Researchers and students in FIU’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.
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,” said 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 said.
Amir Mirmiran, dean of the FIU College of Engineering and Computing, said the TeleBot is a product of the imagination of faculty and students who apply out-of-the-box thinking to tackle real problems with smart solutions at affordable costs.
“The project has far-reaching impacts on the education side as well, since we know that robots are great tools to get students of all ages engaged in engineering and computer coding,” Mirmiran said.