PEORIA, Ill. — The tactical maneuvers that Peoria police officers practiced Sept. 5 during a day of training in vacant riverfront restaurants featured a high-tech tool that the officers themselves helped develop.

A stair-climbing surveillance robot designed and built by Transcend, a California company that specializes in tactical equipment, has evolved with the input of officers on the Special Response Team (SRT) at the Peoria Police Department.

“It’s basically a (reconnaissance) robot — instead of sending a person into a building to find something or someone, we can send this so there’s less risk,” said Sgt. Jake Faw.

The remote-control device is segmented, with track-type locomotion and integrated surveillance equipment. It has a $4,900 price tag — tens of thousands of dollars less than some models made by other manufacturers.

Steven Lenz, vice president of Transcend, said the company made simplicity of operation a priority. Some robots with similar functions require hours of training, but the Transcend model was designed to be almost self-explanatory.

“In terms of operation, it’s basically as easy as it gets,” Lenz said.

That result has been part of a mutually beneficial arrangement with Peoria’s SRT officers, Lenz said. Officers began beta testing Transcend equipment after the Peoria department purchased an earlier model robot from the California company.

“That’s the whole point of today,” Lenz said Sept. 5. “We can get the feedback.”

Source: (Peoria) Journal Star,

This story has been corrected to indicate that Lenz spoke on Sept. 5, not last Tuesday.

Information from: Journal Star,

This is an AP-Illinois Exchange story offered by the (Peoria) Journal Star.

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