After the show, I found myself reminiscing on the hundreds of ways I could have used the Recon Scout over my nearly 15-year law enforcement career, and wished some of my colleagues could have witnessed the usefulness of this new tool. I requested a demo for a local agency's Special Emergency Response Team (SERT). Within a few weeks, the company sent a robot and the agency put the unit to the test.
For the test, team members met to train in an abandoned house. I explained we would be using a surveillance robot during the scenario portions of the training. I quickly got the feeling everyone present would rather test drive an electric chair than take a hard honest look at the device from the Edina, Minnesota-based company — even if it had the potential to save lives.
First, the team stacked up on the front door as perimeter officers and rear guards stood wait. Within 30 seconds of making entry, the team secured one of the role players but missed several key areas as well as an additional threat from a make-shift meth lab.
The group debriefed as I assembled the Recon Scout for deployment, which takes approximately 35 seconds from start to finish.
Following the brief, the team captain asked where I wanted them to position themselves. I advised them to stay where they were as I tossed the device through a small opening in the front screen door. I methodically began to clear each room as the entire team watched the robot's movement on the black-and-white screen. The on-screen images were incredibly clear, although at times, the unit was affected by electronic interference and signal disruption as the robot edged its way deeper into the residence. However, the disruption was minimal and did not hamper the operation or the ability to observe the device's surroundings as I moved the Recon Scout throughout the house with the thumb-operated joystick on the OCU.
Crossing threshold after threshold and maneuvering through wood and debris, the robot helped us identify one of the role players, who had positioned himself on a recliner in the home's living room.
This Missouri SERT team found the Recon Scout to be a versatile and innovative search tool. ReconRobotics advertises that the Scout transmits video more than 250 feet outdoors and 100 feet indoors (through windows, doors and walls, etc.) but the team found its operating distance to be much higher. However, the more walls, barriers or distance between the operator the unit, the greater the chance of losing the robot's signal.
Another area found to be superior is the advertised drop shock resistance, or how far you can drop or throw the device before breaking it. During my testing, the Recon Scout was tossed from a moving vehicle and thrown off a three-story house.
With the ability to be deployed with minimal manpower, the device is a "must have" for any agency wanting to "know before you go." With the threat of terrorism, narcotics raids, hostage rescues, barricaded suspects and explosives always looming on the horizon, the Recon Scout can minimize an agency's risk.Turning darkness into an advantage
ReconRobotics has introduced the Recon Scout IR reconnaissance robot — a throwable, mobile robot that is able to see in complete darkness. The Recon Scout IR allows police and military officials to gain inside knowledge about dark, dangerous and hostile environments before sending in personnel. Simply throw the device through a doorway or window, or over a wall, then use the handheld Operator Control Unit (OCU) to control the robot's movement. The device's new infrared optical systems automatically turn on whenever ambient light is low, and immediately begin transmitting clear real-time video to the OCU video screen or a nearby command post.
More than 100 police, security and military agencies worldwide already use the Recon Scout for tactical reconnaissance. The new Recon Scout IR will be particularly useful in high-risk operations involving barricaded suspects, hostage rescue situations, room-clearing missions and narcotics raids. The video it transmits can be used to determine suspect locations and room layouts; identify weapons suspects may have; and gain knowledge about the number, condition and locations of hostages. Armed with this information, tactical teams can plan with greater confidence and mitigate risks to its personnel and to hostages.