Defense Department to Donate Hundreds of Surplus Robots to Law Enforcement

By Stew Magnuson
The Defense Logistics Agency is poised to donate hundreds of robots that were acquired over the past decade to law enforcement agencies, a DLA official said April 3.
Some of these robots that were used for explosive ordnance disposal and surveillance missions will be older heavily used models, while others are almost new and never went overseas, said Dan Arnold, eastern team lead of the DLA's disposition services office.
Robots are one example of the surplus equipment that may become available as the conflict in Afghanistan winds down, he said at the GovSec conference in Washington, D.C. The program is authorized to give surplus equipment to any law enforcement agency -- state, local or federal -- that has either a counter-narcotics or counterterrorism mission.
Arnold is currently working out the final details with the Army Tank Automotive, Research and Development Command in Warren, Mich., to release the second-hand robots as early as this summer.
The 1033 Program puts surplus property on its website, which can be anything from folding chairs to helicopters. Defense Department bases are their own self-contained communities, and all government owned property no longer needed can be up for grabs. That may include exercise equipment, office equipment, refrigerators or furniture.
"If your mind can think of it, it comes through our agency," Arnold said.
Weapons are also available, including M16 rifles, M14 rifles and .45 caliber handguns. An agency can obtain virtually new rifles and convert them to law enforcement specifications for as little as $40 each, he said. Small boats, night vision goggles and fixed-wing aircraft are also dispensed with. He recently was offered 800 single-man mosquito-proof pup tents.
There are some caveats. The agency must take the equipment as is. It must also arrange to pick the items up within two weeks. If there is something available on a base in Japan or South Korea, for example, a recipient probably should not make a request for it. The program website allows for regional searches, though. Agencies can look for surplus in their general vicinity. Also, the recipients are not allowed to sell, dispose of or trade away anything with defensive or offensive capabilities. If they no longer need such items, they can return them to the DLA.
The program is for agencies with the powers to make arrests. If firefighters or other first responders want to obtain a robot, there is the separate 1706 Program for them, he said.
The office, headquartered in Battle Creek, Mich., fielded more than 115,000 requests last fiscal year and distributed $498 million worth of of equipment, he said. More than 11,000 agencies in all 50 states have signed up for the program.
Aircraft are in high demand, and agencies will be put on a wait list. But that isn't the case for Humvees. There are so many of those surplus vehicles in the inventory, the Defense Department is crushing them for scrap.
"If you want a Humvee, I can almost guarantee you will get it," he said.

Topics: Robotics

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