Meeting Andros

Children at Longfellow Elementary gazed wide-eyed as the Minot Police Department’s robot, Andros, made its grand entrance into the school auditorium on Wednesday afternoon.

Sgt. Larry Haug and Sgt. Dale Plessas explained during the assembly that the police department uses its robots to minimize risk to human police officers in dangerous situations.

If there’s a suspicious package, the police department can send in a robot to pick it up and open it to make sure it’s safe. If it blows up, the robot is damaged, not the human police officers.

Robots are also sometimes used by the SWAT team in police stand-offs. If someone is in a house refusing to come out, Haug said the police might send in the robot, which is equipped with an infrared sensor and a camera, into the house to look around. The robot can also be used to communicate back and forth with the person in the house. The robot is controlled by a police officer in a van parked away from the scene. The robot can also reach items in high places.

“We’ve done a lot of work with Andros and he’s a pretty talented robot, actually,” said Haug.

The police department purchased the Remotec ANDROS F6A robot (“Andros” for short) in 2003. That’s longer ago than many of the children at the elementary school have been alive.

Now the police are giving the children at Longfellow a chance to help name their new robot, an ICOR Caliber brand. All the kids in the school will write down their choice of name on a sheet of paper this morning. Police will pick up the entries and select the one they like best. The child who picks the best name will get to have his picture taken with the robot and the police department, said Haug and Plessas.

Kids waved their hands in the air excitedly when Haug asked who wanted to help name the robot. “I like those robots!” a little boy told principal Tracey Lawson as he filed out of the auditorium with his class of kindergarteners.

The school assembly was intended to encourage kids to do more reading at home. Teachers suggested books about robots that kids might like to read.