By Tia Lynn Ivey
The Morgan County High School (MCHS) Robotics team is putting their mechanical and technological skills to good use this summer by fixing and servicing a robot for the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department.
“We’ve been working with Sheriff Markley and the Morgan County Police Department to fix their former military grade robots that could be used in case of emergency,” said Alec Johnson, MCHS robotics instructor.
The Sheriff’s Department received a free robot last year as a surplus item from the military. The robot was originally designed as a “bomber robot” but is used by local law enforcement agencies around the country to assess dangerous situations in lieu of putting the lives of officers in harms way. Morgan County hasn’t had to deploy this robot as of yet, but if there is ever a hostage situation, or someone barricaded inside a building with a weapon, the robot can be used to approach the scene and relay a video feed to law enforcement before sending officers to investigate.
“It’s just another tool to give us more information before we act,” said Sheriff Robert Markley. “And when you are dealing with someone who has a weapon, it’s a much better option to send a robot first before one of our officers.”
However, the robot was showing signs of malfunctions in recent months, frustrating the Sheriff’s Department when they could not fix the bugs in house.
“I worked on it myself for days and couldn’t get it working right. It took the robotics team just ten minutes,” praised Markley. “We are very pleased with the work they have done and that they were able to help the Sheriff’s Office.”
After ironing out the robot’s bugs, the robotics team offered to conduct a full-service inspection on the robot for the Sheriff’s Department to ensure the robot is working to the best of its ability.
The team assessed and services two robots for the Sheriff’s Department.
“The students found and are fixing a gearing issue in the smaller of the two robots and worked on fixing a software issue with the larger one,” explained Johnson. “They immediately dived in and loved being able to help use their skills to fix these problems! It’s a fantastic opportunity anytime these students can gain some real world experience while also helping the community that helped fund them to go to the World Championship! I would like to thank the Sheriff for reaching out to us and our Robotics Mentor Barry Argroves for leading these students in fixing these robots as this was an amazing learning opportunity for all involved!”
The MCHS Robotics team is also preparing for the 3rd Annual Roboride this fall. On October 8, the charity bike-ride through Madison and Morgan County will feature 10, 31, 62, and 100-mile routes.
“This ride starts at the Clover House Market in Downtown Madison and ends at the Chili Cook-Off where our students will be competing and showing off our robots! All proceeds go to the Morgan County Robotics Program and details can be found through our Facebook page,” said Johnson.
To find out more information about the event, visit the team’s Facebook page at: facebook.com/MoCoRobotics