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Rail News: Safety

Hi-tech security detail: WMATA adds robot to police department

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) police officers recently added a three-foot-tall, 500-pound member to the Metro Transit Police department — a robot.

Designed to disarm potentially explosive devices, the robot can be programmed to roll along Metrorail station mezzanines and platforms, climb stairs or approach suspicious packages by traveling down a rail car or bus aisle.

The $126,000 robot is operated by a trained WMATA Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit member, who monitors potential hazards through a computer that displays images from the robot’s cameras.

Officers attended the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School to learn explosive detection and disarming skills.

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit also recently obtained a new rapid-response vehicle, enabling officers to respond quickly to an incident or use the vehicle as a mobile command center.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/29/2003