Let the Robot(s) do It

By James Buckley   |   July 25, 2019
SWAT Lt. Juan Camarena helps demonstrate FLIR’s Transcend Tactical Vantage Robot at 1187 Coast Village Road (photo credit: Brenda Blalock)

A special demonstration took place recently on the steps of the building at 1187 Coast Village Road. On hand to demonstrate the abilities of a 36″x18″x10″ Vantage tactical robot developed and produced by Transcend Tactical Vantage Robot – was Juan Camarena, a SWAT Lieutenant and Commander of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol Station. The robot can turn on a dime, needs no specialized training to operate its law-enforcement functions, such as climbing stairs in search of bad dudes and assorted perps via its night-vision Pan tilt zoom camera, automatic IR lights, FLIR camera for identifying heat signatures, and a two-way audio system. It provides over 100 pounds carrying capacity and a long-life battery. Oh, and the Vantage robot is made right here in the good old USA.

Even more spectacular is that the robot will never need additional training, will work overtime anytime, will not demand vacation pay, and perhaps best of all, in many instances, can and will replace a man, woman, or police dog in attending to some of the most dangerous but often required demands of law-enforcement officers.

Two Montecito stalwarts – Wayne Siemens and Hank Hurst – met with Lt. Camarena to discuss the purchase of the little guy and the effort was approved by Sheriff Bill Brown, who was also in attendance. The demonstration was held for 25 or so people who’d been invited to participate and perhaps donate money to the cause. The robot used was an older one, but the new one the Sheriff’s Department wants to purchase “has extra features – camera and audio – and can climb stairs better,” Wayne says during a short conversation. As for the reasons to buy a robot, “This thing may have a life span of eight to ten years,” he notes, “and if someone is not wounded over that period of time, it will have been well worth the money.”

The $30,000 robot is maneuvered and directed by a law-enforcement officer and demonstrated by Jacqueline Bui, out of harm’s way

E-mail invitations went out about two weeks before, asking that participants come to Khao Kaeng at 1187 Coast Village Road. “We had hors d’oeuvres, wine, and Julie Kellner went into the empty space under UPS to play ‘hostage,'” Wayne recounts. 

“This robot can drill through steel,” he continues. “It’s a formidable machine and it can force itself into spaces where others couldn’t.” Wayne says he’s never seen one of these in live action, “but they have communication with an operating officer outside. He (or she) can tell it what to do, verbally, such as taking a wide-angle shot of the interior. It is not armed,” he notes sagely, “so it is not going to take anybody out… It’s a machine designed to protect law enforcement as well as any other people involved in an incident.”

“It’s a $30,000 machine and a great little addition to the arsenal,” we are told and FLIR (based in Goleta) is selling it to SB County Sheriff’s Department for $20,160.

At the end of the demonstration, during which the robot climbed a lengthy set of stairs and entered the front door of the space where the hostage was being held, it used its camera to pinpoint the location of Ms Kellner and her tormentor and saved the day. After which, Wayne reports, “We told the Sheriff’s Department that they should consider it purchased.”

The Santa Barbara Special Enforcement Team Support Foundation seeks to raise additional funds to help fund more highly specialized equipment for the Special Enforcement Team and the Sheriff’s Department. If you or someone you know would like to donate or help raise money for the continuing effort, you are invited to call 805-686-1002 or email sbsetsfi2010@gmail.com for more information.


You might also be interested in...