Project Hero. Clemson prof pitches robot solution to school shootings


Juan Gilbert has an idea he thinks can stir up public debate about the school shootings in the United States in recent years:

Why not build a robot to disarm and help apprehend intruders threatening schools and other public buildings? It could be faster than humans, armed with a Taser and controlled from a police command center.

“The technology exists,” said Gilbert, the presidential endowed professor and chairman at Clemson’s School of Computing. “We have bomb robots, drone programs — this is something to think about.”



Gilbert hosted a lunchtime news conference Tuesday at South Fant School of Early Education, where his son Julian was a student last year. The professor showed a promotional video he compiled with colleagues to show an animated version of the proposed robot in action. There were also demonstrations of robots, a model drone airplane and remote-control technology for some of the prekindergarten students.

The proposed robot, called Boo B. Trap, would remain locked in school storage rooms until a staff member or teacher pressed a panic button to alert police, who would operate it remotely. Gilbert and his research team calls its work Project Hero.

Gilbert said such a robot could save police officers, as well as students and innocent bystanders, in a way that addresses the concerns of all sides around the issue.

“I believe this technology can keep schools safe,” Gilbert said. “If you’re against guns, I didn’t introduce any guns; if you’re in favor of guns, I didn’t take any away.”

Anderson Police Chief Jim Stewart was interested in what Gilbert had to say, but sounded skeptical as to the potential for such a device to work as the professor hopes.

“It’s impressive, but there’s got to be training if you’re going to put a Taser on it,” said Stewart. “It’s going to require a law enforcement officer behind the controls for that, and we’ve already got school resource officers trained to work in these schools.”

Stewart said city and county law enforcement train regularly for scenarios like school shootings.

“In the event of something like that, we’re all coming,” the chief continued. “The SRO is going in first and we’re going to keep coming in.”

Anderson County Sheriff’s Deputy Ray Graham is the resource officer at South Fant. He said there is no substitute for being in the building every day, patrolling the property inside and out and forging relationships with the students. He said engendering trust and respect between himself and the children is central to effectively handling any safety issues that could arise at the school.

“You’ve got to get someone to man these robots who knows the school, and there are a lot of obstacles there,” said Graham. ” … And just interacting with students every day, it’s unreal how valuable that is.”

Boo B. Trap doesn’t exist yet, even in the form of a prototype; Gilbert said he was most interested in generating research and public discussion. He said his team would most likely work on the software and networking aspects, while the hardware would be developed by engineering teams at Clemson and other schools, possibly with help from manufacturers like BMW who are already well-versed in robotics.

“The expertise is here in the Upstate, but there could be student engagement throughout South Carolina,” Gilbert said. “We could even nationalize this project to engage everyone around this research … that’s how I see it.”



Publicado el 22/04/2014

Project Hero uses an offsite-controlled, teleoperated, and fully mobile robotic entity intended to be operated on an as-needed basis from a centralized location, with the purpose of subduing a would-be perpetrator or assailant until adequate law enforcement backup arrives to the scene of an alleged crime.

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