Bomb-detecting robot now available to SLPD

Armed with shotgun, robot can climb steps, open doors        

A robot for detecting and handling explosives is now available for use by the Storm Lake Public Safety Department.

Jeff Cullen and Luke Ossman from the State Fire Marshals Office brought the robot, a response vehicle and a bomb-sniffing dog Kodi to Storm Lake Tuesday afternoon for a demonstration.

The equipment is based in Carroll because Cullen lives there, but is available to all public safety departments in northwest Iowa. “We’ll go wherever we’re called,” he told the officers. He’s already gotten a request to be present at one of the RAGBRAI overnight towns in July.

The robot is operated via video screen from the response truck at a distance.

Loaded with cameras, a grabbing arm and a shotgun barrel, the robot can move along bumpy terrain and even climb steps and open a door.

“If they shoot that, we’re out maybe a camera,” said Cullen of a scenario where the robot could be employed instead of an officer to approach a dangerous situation.

“If you’ve got anything suspicious, call us,” he stressed.

Storm Lake Public Safety Director Mark Prosser says his department could benefit from the robot, such as the retrieval of suspicious packages within a building, x-raying a suspicious package or even delivering an item like a cell phone in a hostage situation.