New robot, Tuk, joins bomb squad, improves safety for officers

Published: Apr. 24, 2019 at 5:08 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

A new robot, and the technology that comes with it, is improving safety and giving law enforcement an advantage in some dangerous situations.

The new addition to the Brown-Outagamie County Bomb Squad will likely make its debut this weekend when President Trump visits the Resch Center.

The team has been waiting 15 years for the equipment that it says is priceless.

It's a smaller, faster, more agile robot than the squad's other robot, added 16 years ago. The new one, named Tuk, is ready to aid the bomb squad in the most difficult or dangerous situations.

"This new robot is able to go up and down stairs a lot easier, get in tighter spaces, down the aisles of buses, airplanes. It's more maneuverable in tight spaces than our large platform robot, so it's really going to come in handy," says Lt. Chris Knurr, Brown-Outagamie County Bomb Squad.

Being able to go up and down stairs gives the bomb squad an advantage, sending in the robot instead of officers.

Officers operate it remotely from several hundred feet away and use cameras to see where it's going and what's around them.

Tuk also has a claw, with multiple attachments and uses, that allows them to perform tasks with great precision.

"You have a suicide vest, we can go downrange with the small robot and cut the vest off with the tools that come with the smaller robot. It's more maneuverable, can get in closer," explains Knurr.

If someone were hurt or an officer were down, the robot should be able to clip a strap onto clothes and pull them to safety.

It also has a microphone and speakers, plus automatic night-vision capabilities, offering another layer of protection for officers.

The $118,000 robot was paid for through a Homeland Security grant, but officers say you can't put a price tag on the safety it offers.

It's the squad's second robot, bringing it up to levels of other bomb squads in the state and giving this team the ability to respond to multiple locations during big events, like a presidential visit.

"Getting to learn it, but it's unbelievable the technology and the usefulness, how nimble it is, small quarters, how many more advantages it gives us," says Sgt. John Schuette with the Outagamie County Sheriff's Office and bomb squad.

(In case you were wondering, the name Tuk comes from the Canadian word for "knitted hat," called "touque," because the Canadian company that delivered the robot also brought the bomb squad hats.)