RAM is tough, but a real robot? No dice
On the Mark — By Craig Marks
If you had asked me in 1982 to guess what a typical 2012 local headline would be, I might have said, “Robot joins Akron Police Department.” And then I might have added the subheadline, “Will aid in battle against giant gun-wielding ants.”
Well, that headline has come to pass — the first part, anyway. At its June 4 meeting, Akron City Council authorized the mayor to use grant money to purchase a tactical robot for the Akron Police Department. The robot’s name is RoboteX AVATAR Micro, but I bet it’s “RAM” to its close friends.
RAM (If I can be so presumptuous. Let’s start off on good terms, OK?) is not a human-looking robot like Data from “Star Trek.” It’s more of a tiny tank, and it looks like Trouble — that is, the old board game Trouble. Remember how the game had that Pop-O-Matic bubble in its center? From the photos I’ve seen of RAM, it’s got a bubble, too. I’d like to think that when it corners a perpetrator, RAM says in a cold, modulated voice, “Do you feel lucky?” and then pops dice inside its head.
But RAM won’t be going out on patrol, searching for, say, cough-medicine abusers. (No “Robocop finds Robitussin” headlines, alas.) With its cameras and audio equipment, it will be used by the department’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team to scope out dangerous situations. Getting into position should not be a problem. With its ability to climb steps, it could sneak through an open door. In situations that require covert methods, it could be disguised as a pizza box, with its bubble being the thing that keeps the cheese from sticking to the top of the box.
Or it can be thrown through a window. That, in itself, is nothing special. I had an aunt whose sponge cake, if thrown by a second-string high school quarterback, would penetrate a basement’s glass block window. What sets the robot apart is that, after its crash landing, it can just brush itself off and resume its business.
I was curious as to how the robot was thrown. Was it propelled by some kind of catapult or (my preference) hurled by a larger, even cooler robot? I emailed the robotex website, robotex.com, and they were kind enough to answer my question.
“It’s small and light enough that one person can put it through a window,” was the response.
The robot weighs 23 pounds. I can barely get a 20-pound bag of mulch in the wheelbarrow but, then again, I’m not being recruited for the force.
We’re in the second decade of the 21st century and, by gum, by now we should have police robots. If RAM, or whatever its name will be, can keep our safety forces out of danger, it will deserve accommodation.
Though, if you had asked the 1982 version of me, I’m not sure I would have said the device fit my definition of a robot. It’s more of a souped-up remote-control car, one that’s very functional with loads of bells and whistles, but it’s not in the category of the metal men seen in movies and books.
But don’t tell RAM I said so. Far be it from me to pop its bubble.
Calendar of Events
- Book Sale and Bizarre Bazaar - 5/25/2013
- Art Sale - 5/25/2013
- Walk for Health - 5/25/2013
- Ballroom Dancing - 5/25/2013
- British Drawings From the Cleveland Museum of Art - 5/26/2013