Company Introduces Low-Cost Checkpoint Security Robot

By Stew Magnuson
A startup is offering a small robot that can perform under vehicle inspections more thoroughly than the traditional stick-and-mirror system employed at checkpoints.

“They’re really not doing an inspection. It’s really more of a psychological deterrent than an inspection,” said Ted Chavalas, president of General Robotics of Van Nuys, Calif.

The Ferret is a flat, tele-operated small robot, which has a small camera that can peer up at the bottom of the car to look for bombs. The company debuted the robot at the recent Associated for the United States Army conference in Washington, D.C.

Technologists have noted the relatively small view that mirrors give security guards, and have come up with solutions such as high-definition cameras embedded in concrete that can scan the bottom of a car as it drives over.

There have also been some robots designed to perform the same task, but they are too costly, he said. The Ferret system, including the controller and a wearable view screen, costs about $10,000.

It is also more flexible than a scanner embedded in concrete, he noted. An operator, for example, can move it to parked cars that may be suspicious, Chavalas said. It is light, but rugged enough for a person to stand on and not break, he said. The operator can be as far as 300 meters away.

The price should make it attractive to local police departments and a military that is looking for low-cost inspection technologies, he added.

Topics: Homeland Security, Border Security, Robotics, Homeland Security

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