Injured police to soon patrol with Robocops

Robocop gets real: The remote controlled robot that could put injured police back on the beat

Project aiming to develop a robot controlled remotely by injured officers
Officers would control the virtual cop through a virtual reality headset
Could be used to patrol nuclear facilities, ports and even urban areas

By Daniel Bates
PUBLISHED: 15:46, 1 October 2012 | UPDATED: 15:48, 1 October 2012

US researchers are working on a real-life Robocop who would patrol the streets to combat crime – just like in the film.

Injured policemen or soldiers will be wired up to the ‘PatrolBot’ which will effectively give them mechanical limbs that they have lost whilst in service.

The plan is to make a basic version of Alex Murphy, the fictional policeman in the 1987 hit Robocop, who is turned into a cyber cop after being nearly killed in the line of duty.

His brain and spinal cord are salvaged and put into the body of an armour-plated android – then sent out to protect the public.

The new technology is based on advances in the US military in telerobotics, which is where users are wired up remotely to a robot and given physical feedback to simulate the feeling of being there.

The injured person would use cameras and sensors on the PatrolBot which would be connected to their own body.

They would see using a virtual reality helmet which would make it look like they were peering through the robot’s eyes.

Preliminary sketches drawn up by Florida University International show show a Robocop style android on wheels clad in silver armour.

It also bears a resemblance to the evil robot ED-209 which featured in the film.

The research echoes the popular film Robocop.

According to, the aim of the research is to ‘develop telebots capable of patrolling in high-density public spaces and performing surveillance in sensitive areas such as ports and nuclear facilities.

‘The prototype will incorporate video, audio and sensory capabilities.’

The project was created by Jeremy Robbins, a lieutenant commander in the US Navy Reserves, in conjunction with FIU.

Mr Robbins said: ‘We want to use telebots to give disabled military and police veterans an opportunity to serve in law enforcement.

‘With telebots, a disabled police officer will be capable of performing many, if not most, of the functions of a normal patrol officer – interacting with the community, patrolling, responding to emergency calls, issuing citations.

‘Telerobotics has already begun to make its way into the worlds of medicine, business and the military.

‘Extending it into law enforcement is simply the natural progression of things.’

Mr Robbins added that the aim was to bring a person back to work who otherwise would not be able to.

He said: ‘These men and women joined the police and armed forces in order to serve their country, but now because of injury that ability has been diminished.

‘I don’t know how to fix a severed spine, but restoring that ability to serve, and specifically the ability to serve in law enforcement – that I think we can fix.’

Prototype robots being tested by the group can change from two wheels to four, depending on the terrain.

FIU professor Nagarajan Prabakar said: ‘We want to look at something that’s affordable and can also be deployed so that people can use it.

‘That’s a very important part of this.

‘We want to make sure that the cost is affordable for police departments and others.’

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