Robot News: “Recon Scout Robot to Assist Guards in California Prisons”

From Popular Mechanics:

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) signed a deal this summer with Minneapolis-based ReconRobotics to help field-test the company’s throwable robot, the Recon Scout.

The dumbbell-size device is already used by law enforcement agencies across the country and military personnel in Iraq—ReconRobotics won’t specify how many it has sold outright, though CEO Alan Bignall told PM that “250 of them are in use around the world.” The agreement with the CDCR marks the robot’s first deployment behind bars—the bots arrived there at the end of September.
The robot’s mission won’t be to patrol cell blocks or spy on prisoners. (Although it’s built to be stealthy, with a pair of electric motors that Bignall says produce less noise than a human whisper.) The Recon Scout is deployed more like a remote-controlled grenade: You pull a pin to turn the robot on—the lack of an on/off switch makes it easier to activate while wearing bulky gloves and respirators, and prevents it from being turned off by the impact of hitting the ground. The most likely use for the drone will be for confrontations, and particularly during standoffs.
The Recon Scout is inexpensive when it comes to robots—it costs $6000, or $9000 with an IR camera—and is built to survive a 30 ft drop onto concrete. ReconRobotics has also tested other options, like dropping the robot from a low-flying unmanned aerial vehicle, and launching it from the same kind of compressed-air guns used to fire tear-gas canisters. Dramatic as unmanned airdrops and robo-grenade launchers might sound, the Recon Scout serves the same relatively low-key role outside of prisons as it will in them.

It would be useful for patrolling large areas prone to vandalism, or wide open spaces I would think. I think some managed security services could be built around it to.

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