Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Robotics Hardware

Homemade Robot Patrols Atlanta Streets 324

Posted by Soulskill
from the serving-justice-and-delicious-hot-dogs dept.
Josh Fink brings news of an Atlanta resident who has created a remote control robot to scare off criminals during the night. Rufus Terrill, an engineer, uses it to patrol the streets and encourage drug dealers and other shady characters to move on. Local residents call it his "Robocop." From CNN: "It's a barbecue smoker mounted on a three-wheeled scooter, and armed with an infrared camera, spotlight, loudspeaker and aluminum water cannon that shoots a stream of icy water about 20 feet. Operated by remote control, the robot spotlights trespassers on property down the street from his bar, O'Terrill's. Using a walkie-talkie, Terrill belts out through the robot's loudspeaker, 'That's private property. You guys need to get out of here.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Homemade Robot Patrols Atlanta Streets

Comments Filter:
  • by twilightzero (244291) <mrolfs@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Friday March 07, 2008 @04:42PM (#22681268) Homepage Journal
    C'mon, no "Drop you weapon, you have 15 seconds to comply"??
  • Assault (Score:4, Informative)

    by odin84gk (1162545) on Friday March 07, 2008 @04:43PM (#22681304)
    From the article

    Police Major Lane Hagin says ... "There's no problem with the robot going up and down the street or being visible or any of the other things it does -- with the exception of spraying water on people." Hagin adds, "Then, it becomes an assault no matter where it happens."
    :-(
    • They're going to charge the robot? j/k but seriously, the threat of physical force is usually just as good as the use of it. I'm sure the robot could fire in self defense too, since it could easily be considered the man using non-lethal force to protect his property.
    • by randyest (589159)
      I read that too, but it hardly seems fair if it's his property and they're trespassing. I mean, if he had a sprinkler system (assuming the current GA drought wasn't going on) and it soaked them, that wouldn't be assault, would it? What if he triggered the sprinkler remotely? Would that be assault? If not, then what makes using this "auto-sprinkling robot" on his own property "assault?" Because it's mobile? Because it looks like a cheap Dalek? I don't quite understand where the line is.

      Then again,
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by provigilman (1044114)
        IANAL, but I would believe that the line is drawn at intent and the dilberateness of the act. A sprinkler system going off on a timer while someone happens to be on your lawn is one thing, triggering a device to purposefully spray someone is an entirely different matter...whether or not the device is mobile.
        • What about this? [greentouchirrigation.com]

          I've seen these sort of things many places to discourage hobos more than deer or whatnot.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by StikyPad (445176)
          "I'm not saying you have to move, but Robocop's timer is set to shoot water at the spot you're in, in 30 seconds.. Nothing I can do about it really."
      • I read that too, but it hardly seems fair if it's his property and they're trespassing. I mean, if he had a sprinkler system (assuming the current GA drought wasn't going on) and it soaked them, that wouldn't be assault, would it? What if he triggered the sprinkler remotely? Would that be assault? If not, then what makes using this "auto-sprinkling robot" on his own property "assault?"

        An "aluminum water cannon" sounds a lot more like a firehose than a "sprinkler". There are generally very specific legal co

    • It cannot be an assault if the robot is acting autonomously. So it could be an industrial accident caused by a runaway machine.
    • by jandrese (485)
      You know, in Hotlanta spraying someone down with cold water could be considered a public service.
    • by SeaFox (739806)

      -- with the exception of spraying water on people." Hagin adds, "Then, it becomes an assault no matter where it happens."

      Heaven knows, some of those drug dealers could use a shower.
    • Police Major Lane Hagin says... "There's no problem with the robot going up and down the street or being visible or any of the other things it does -- with the exception of spraying water on people." Hagin adds, "Then, it becomes really freakin' cool no matter where it happens."
      Fixed.
  • by geekoid (135745)
    Great nerd appeal.

    WOuldn't it be smarter to put lights in the area that are on 12-6 every morning.

    Add a sprinkler system that goes on and off randomly and people will stay away.

    • by reality-bytes (119275) on Friday March 07, 2008 @04:47PM (#22681342) Homepage
      The problem with adding lights to the street is that it just allows the criminals to see what they are doing.
      • by geekoid (135745)
        It allows others to see what they are doing as well.
        In the article it talks about the criminals leaving when a light is shone on them.

        I wonder if any nerd do gooders in Atlanta would help this guy?

      • by kabocox (199019)
        The problem with adding lights to the street is that it just allows the criminals to see what they are doing.

        There is a part of me that wonders if we'd have much less crime if we got rid of all those street lights that are everywhere. I understand them at business parking lots that want customers after dark. I don't understand them along road sides and such.
      • So? It also allows everybody else to see what they are doing.
    • Re:NIce (Score:4, Informative)

      by bodino (240393) on Friday March 07, 2008 @04:49PM (#22681364) Homepage
      The trouble with a sprinkler system is that Atlanta is in severe drought
      • by geekoid (135745)
        Use non-potable water. It doesn't ahve to be much.
      • by alta (1263)
        How about a sprinkler that comes on for 5 seconds twice an hour, only at night. Light on water, and very effective.
        • It would still earn you a visit from the water police. (And yes, that's despite the fact that the normal police can't be bothered to get rid of the vagrants!)

  • by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Friday March 07, 2008 @04:44PM (#22681312)
    If this Dalek was spraying water at me I'd just push it over. Can't be that difficult.
  • by MoodyLoner (76734) <moodyloner.ca@NOSpAm.gmail.com> on Friday March 07, 2008 @04:45PM (#22681316) Homepage Journal
    that nobody's stolen it or taken a baseball bat to it.

    Yet.
  • A remote controlled cart with a loud speaker and a watergun is supposed to be a crime deterrent? I think a better crime deterrent would be the robot from Rocky IV.
    • I think the deterrant is calling public attention to the activities of the people in question. They don't want to be noticed, and having a Dalek yell at you, shine lights all over the place and squirt water in your general direction is going to get a lot of street attention.
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Friday March 07, 2008 @04:45PM (#22681324) Journal

    Police Major Lane Hagin says the robot is definitely a different crime-fighting idea. "There's no problem with the robot going up and down the street or being visible or any of the other things it does -- with the exception of spraying water on people."

    Hagin adds, "Then, it becomes an assault no matter where it happens."
    I thought you could... bet it costs less than a taser gun and training too.

    Assault? That seriously puts kids and the super soaker company in serious trouble? WTF?

    Seriously, assault? Perhaps, since the robot is black, it should only presume to act like the black night in Monty Python's 'Holy Grail' movie? ... don't run away, you coward! Come back, I'll burn you to death with my spotlight......
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by KublaiKhan (522918)
      Technically, yes, it is assault--as is spitting in someone's face, or any other sort of unsolicited touching.

      Whether it'd be prosecuted is open to question.
      • by ceoyoyo (59147)
        Not sure about the US, but in Canada assault also covers threats.
    • So, wait...it's black, and it rolls around after dark in a bad part of town?

      How long do you think it will be before it gets stopped in a 'random check' and tasered for 'resisting and officer?'
    • The "spotlight" used on the robot is a 4100 Lumen flashlight (literally) [slashdot.org], the water is just to cool the black, burning flesh once the flashlight has gone out...

      It's funny. Laugh. No really, otherwise I will get out my robot and *flash* my light on you... Erm...
    • Look it up. You don't even need contact for assault, that would be battery.
      Hense the term Assault AND battery.

      http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/assault [reference.com]

      Most kids are playing together, so it's not assault;however, a sudden attack by a super soaker is assault, but society accepts that. Barring some extreme case.

    • Assault? That seriously puts kids and the super soaker company in serious trouble? WTF?.
      Isn't is rather troubling that it's easy to imagine supersoakers being banned in some US states and guns still being legal? Kinda like how in loads of US states, you can't buy a bottle rocket, but you can buy a sniper rifle.

      And yes I am implying 90% of Americans are quite mad.
  • Type O (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Instine (963303) on Friday March 07, 2008 @04:45PM (#22681328)
    That should be Tyrell not Terril
  • No bashing (Score:4, Informative)

    by Harmonious Botch (921977) * on Friday March 07, 2008 @04:46PM (#22681332) Homepage Journal
    To me, the most notable element of the story is what DIDN'T happen: nobody attenpted to destroy the bot, or even tip it over. Here on slashdot, I predict, within the first 20 posts someone will be remarking how they would destroy it if they encountered it. But the people in the story don't. Is it something about being homeless, or something about being a dealer, or something about being a drug user?
    • by MoodyLoner (76734)
      They were just waiting for somebody on Slashdot to give them the idea.

      Seriously, though - I found this odd too. Those criminals are showing an awful lot of respect for other people's property.
    • by Vellmont (569020)

      I predict, within the first 20 posts someone will be remarking how they would destroy it if they encountered it.

      Why would any slashdot poster do that?

      I'd try to hack the damn thing, and take control over it. It can't be using anything more sophisticated that off the shelf parts. You'd likely just have to buy a remote control of the same type and frequency and turn-the-tables.

      Fortunately for this guy, I don't live in Atlanta, am not a drug dealer and am not a bum.
    • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Friday March 07, 2008 @05:09PM (#22681624) Journal

      Talk tough behind a computer screen but when it comes to the real world /.ers are weenies.

      Normal people and this includes the homeless and drug dealers don't want a hassle.

      The simple fact is that it is terribly easy to setup a neighbourhood watch and get rid of trouble, it just moves to the next area were people don't want a hassle and are unwilling to keep their area safe.

      Where ever someone is creating trouble there is someone else who isn't doing anything about it.

      Ask yourselve what you would do, as a drugs dealer you rely on you being to dangerous to confront and to much hassle to call the police to go undisturbed, this robot breaks the rules. It doesn't have to be afraid and so it puts the dilemma in the drug dealers shoes, create a scene he wants even less then a normal citizen or just move on.

      I think it is an intresting idea, but most of slashdot will probably freak because of the camera and big brother idea's. It ain't a solution and sooner or later it will lead to trouble, but it is an intresting idea nonetheless. Would a CTV setup in a local area that can be seen by anyone in that area be an acceptable way to get a neighbourhood watch going? Or is you neighbour watching what you are doing the same as the state?

    • by discord5 (798235)

      I predict, within the first 20 posts someone will be remarking how they would destroy it if they encountered it.

      I wouldn't destroy it... with my own hands. I'd build a waterproof robot and show that piece of trash!

      Oh, wait, they used to have a show on that sort of thing, and it wasn't very entertaining.

    • Hey! My brother was a homeless drug addicted dealer unable to post to slashdot! How do you feel now you insensitive clod!
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)
      No, it's something about being a loudmouth on Slashdot. I expect there's also a correlation between the "I'd destroy it!" posters, high UID and young age. Those types tend to be in bed before this guy would normally be sicking his robot on drug dealers.
  • Once the right (wrong) people figure out the thing only has a water-gun for defense/offense it'll be stolen and or destroyed in record time. Clever idea though . . . while it lasts.
  • by randyest (589159) on Friday March 07, 2008 @04:52PM (#22681422) Homepage

    Meredith has a security guard at the center who leaves in the early evening. "They know when the guard leaves," she says. "They know when the cleaning crew leaves and then here comes the drug dealers to prey on the homeless people."

    I think the issue is homeless people. They are being confused with the folks who prey on them and sell them drugs
    Right. The homeless people are confused. They actually think they are applying for jobs and/or educational classes, but they somehow get drugs instead! They were confused! The dealers force them to buy drugs, with confusion techniques!

    Drug pushers don't exist. No one has to push drugs -- they sell themselves.
    • Pushers definitely exist...when they give drugs to kids or you know when the first one is free.
      Or Peer pressure

      I agree most people arent forced via violence but you are underestimating the other pressures of life
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mollymoo (202721) *

      Drug pushers don't exist. No one has to push drugs -- they sell themselves

      That's what I thought till I received an offer, on the street, unsolicited, to try some crack. After a very brief conversation it became apparent the guy making the offer wasn't just some guy looking for someone to share a rock with, he was a crack dealer. I was approached by a prostitute (actually a girl promoting a brothel - the rapidly delivered "menu" was fascinating) that night too. I guess being out on your own at 4.30am in a

  • Droids (Score:2, Funny)

    by Darfeld (1147131)
    This is not the droid the /.ers are looking for...
  • Mostly cause I'd be curious to see how quickly someone stomped the thing till it broke.

    And the water cannon? That'd get you shot.
  • by davecrusoe (861547) on Friday March 07, 2008 @05:00PM (#22681528) Homepage
    It's quite neat that this guy has taken the time to build something to help keep the neighborhood "safer". But what's most interesting is that the "drug dealers" (etc) respond so strongly to the little, harmless robot; and that their response would probably be much more hostile toward police. In addition to a neat experiment in... safety... it's also a neat psychological study. --Dave
    • Rumor has it that the drug dealers are going to deploy a robot hottie cobbled together from old Coleman stoves to distract BBQ-robot.
  • Who assigned this guy the rights to go squirting anyone with water or for that matter verbally harassing them. My gut instinct is that the guy who built this wishes he was policeman and doesn't have the proverbial sac to be one. If the streets where he lives are so rampant with criminal activity I would suggest he follows legal measures to do remedy the situation. "Vigilante Justice" is a matter of ethics, and I cannot say I accept this man as my voice. Is it legal to sue a robot for harassment, or the to
    • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Friday March 07, 2008 @05:14PM (#22681692)
      Saying "Get out of here, this is private property" is not harassment. Even if it is at a distance. The water cannon may be a bit over the line, but how do you get harassment out of the walkie-talkie part?

      As far as 'legal measures', the police cannot be everywhere, 24/7. You think the residents haven't called them before?
    • While I admit that many here would disagree with me, I believe the best answer is: yes, I should be able to build a feces flinging helicopter with which to assault your enemies (presumably this is assault, like shooting water at them).

      Please note that I did not indicate that it was the correct answer...only the best one.
      • Poor form to reply to my own post, but pronouns are our friends. As much as I would enjoy flinging poo at your enemies, I'd much rather fling it at my own.

        You'll have to build your own assault-chopper, as I'm not inclined to share a human waste related weapon.
    • by MobyDisk (75490) on Friday March 07, 2008 @05:34PM (#22681940) Homepage
      You know, I don't want things to become like the old west either, but this absurd over-pacifism is ridiculous. If someone comes on to my property to sell drugs, or some other illegal activity, and I yell at them - that's not illegal. If I shoot them with a water gun that isn't assault. It's that person being an ass, and me being an ass back. The difference is that their ass is on my property conducting an illegal activity, and they know it. So they leave because my charge of trespassing and drug sales is bigger than their charge of assault by a water pistol.

      There's nothing wrong with citizens taking these types of minor things into their own hands. I don't want a world where every time I step on someone's grass they call the police. The reason we are moving in that direction, as a society, is because a small small small number of people are so trigger happy (with real live guns) that even the minor everyday cases of someone protecting themselves runs the risk of becoming a life or death situation. So we all live in fear.

      The reality is that the police cannot be everywhere at once, and if someone has a safe way to protect themselves like this, then they should be allowed to do it. Yes, it is probably assault according to the letter of the law, but not according to the spirit of it.
    • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Friday March 07, 2008 @05:41PM (#22682052)

      If the streets where he lives are so rampant with criminal activity I would suggest he follows legal measures to do remedy the situation.

      I don't know where in Atlanta this guy lives, but the worst neighborhood in the city is English Avenue. I can't remember the statistics I read at the moment, but I think it had something on the order of 300 murders (let alone everything else) in 2006. In a single neighborhood.

      Now, you know how many cops patrol that area? Two. Two! That's not even enough to have even any officers in the area all the time! When it's that bad, exactly what legal measures do you suggest he follow?!

  • It's definitely a nifty little RC vehicle, but why not make it more remote and control it with a live video feed? Coupled with gyroscopic input from a video headset, ala here [google.fr], this thing could be controlled from the dude's bar. I mean, when you watch the CNN video, it does seem a bit dorky to have this guy walking 10 feet behind the robot. I'm sure the good people over at RC Groups [rcgroups.com] would be happy to help him out.

    Plus, you know, if the thing really pisses off a dealer, it'd be nice to be a good distance
  • by istartedi (132515) on Friday March 07, 2008 @05:29PM (#22681880) Journal

    Yes, You! In the ski mask. You're trespassing. You knocked me over. Stop that. You and your accomplice are in violation. Cease lifting me up immediately. Don't put me in the bed of that pickup. That's theft. Stop driving away, that's (garbled) Come (garbled) back...

  • by vic-traill (1038742) on Friday March 07, 2008 @09:55PM (#22684198)

    Voiceover: Lydia Meridith runs the daycare centre ... Lydia: [ ... at night ... ] This whole square is enveloped with homeless people and drug dealers ...

    So, the bot-operator sits on the Board of the daycare which occupies part of the footprint in question. He doesn't own it. Homeless people are lumped in with drug dealers. He admits to firing the bot's water cannon at 'extremely stubborn' people.

    BTW, the 'bot is *not* autonomous as claimed in an earlier comment; the guy is pulling the switch.

    Where I come from (which is admittedly not Atlanta or anywhere near there, as indicated by the audio transcription above) firing a water cannon at someone is assault, hassling dope dealers setting up shop in your neighbourhood with a 'bot is really freaking cool, and treating the homeless the same as dope dealers (lifestyle and intention overlaps notwithstanding) is a recipe for escalating social dysfunction.

    I admire Mr. Terrill for taking a stand, and doing so with a geek gadget ups his score. I do not understand the lack of differentiation (in both the video report and this thread) between a homeless man and a Misery Merchant. How is it this is not even on the radar?

    I suspect I might be on the cusp of a hearty karma smackdown, but WTF?

  • by yawble (181792) <<kt.anul> <ta> <yentihw>> on Friday March 07, 2008 @11:25PM (#22684658) Homepage Journal
    And the bot is a hit. He actually talks to the cops that come in from time to time, and they love it. Rufus has to deal with these homeless wastes of space coming in, harassing the customers, and trying to steal shit all the time.

    He actually owns most of the entire block, and everyone supports him. That poor shitty homeless shelter down the street sure fucks things up all around the entire area.

    He has actually ran for Gov. I believe, and came in last every time, but hell.... I think cities need crazy old guys like this.

    Before you bother white knighting for the 'poor homeless chaps' down the road, you should hang out for a couple of hours, and watch them smoke crack, huff paint, and harass poor passer-by.
  • Robot wars! (Score:3, Funny)

    by twazzock (928396) on Saturday March 08, 2008 @01:05AM (#22685070)
    Hmm... I can imagine a drug dealer or someone building his own robot to anonymously attack and destroy this one. Then this one gets repaired and beefed up, and maybe a few friends add their own robots to the posse. The next time the offending 'bot comes around, the robots swarm around it and take it out. Then this 'bot's builder gets some of his mates and they make bigger and badder robots to combat this new threat; adding chainsaws and flamethrowers.
    Soon, the whole thing escalates to a super-serious Robot Wars on the city streets!
    Mechanical gangs fighting it out for street territory!
    Soon, everyone would be too scared to go out at night in case they run into a gang of robots; barricading themselves in their homes and lying awake in horror to the sounds of the metallic carnage going outside their windows!

    Melodrama aside, it would be pretty cool to watch the all-out robotic street brawls --from a distance. It'd be like something out of Terminator.

"Text processing has made it possible to right-justify any idea, even one which cannot be justified on any other grounds." -- J. Finnegan, USC.

Working...