TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Robots are turning up everywhere in modern life. Now one has turned up in the police department for Pima Community College.
We’re used to the idea of police using robots for dangerous work like dealing with bombs but police at Pima Community College have an egg shaped robot rolling around PCC on a different duty.
Chief Buddy Janes says the robot costs less than a human officer and it’s mainly a rolling camera platform, transmitting back to campus police headquarters. Its patrol zone is programmed in.
It can avoid obstacles.
It carries a call button so anyone in trouble can ask police to send human help.
And even this mild mannered presence can scare away criminals.
Chief Janes says, “Just like seeing a police car parked somewhere it's a deterrent, you know. It's got a badge on a sticker on the side. It's rather obvious that it's associated with the police so it is a deterrent in the downtown area here. We have lots of foot traffic coming across our property so we want to make everybody feel safe and feel that environment. At all times.”
PCC’s robot is leased from a robot company called Knightscope. The company claims its security robots have logged more than a million hours of service in places like malls, parking lots, hospitals and corporate properties. The company claims where its robots are used, calls for service drop by ten percent and reported crimes drop 46 percent.
With a lot of classes still virtual, there’s not a lot of students to adjust to the robot---and by the way, the college has held off naming it for the moment. But Chief Janes says students seem to like it.
“I've seen students and faculty following behind the robot videotaping it. I've seen people taking selfies with it.”
Student Marcos Soza says it took him a little while to get comfortable with the robot.
“When I first saw it, it creeped me out. It creeped me out so much and I wanted to go a little bit close to them but it's like no, let's have it come to me first and then let's see what it really is.
But now he sees it as something that improves campus safety and he’s happy it’s rolling around.