MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you are in combat or investigating an active crime scene, not knowing what is around the corner or behind a closed door can be deadly. But what if you had a set of eyes and ears that could investigate without the threat of a life being lost?

Over the weekend, Eden Prairie police brought in a SWAT team and the Bloomington bomb squad to investigate gunshots fired at an apartment complex. Then, they rolled out a robot to look inside one of the units.

Jeremy Blade works in marketing for ReconRobotics, a company that’s headquartered in Edina and makes the Throwbot XT.

“It’s a throwable camera that officers can use before they go in. Eyes on so they can see what the situation is, and they are not going in blind,” Blade said.

The throwable camera technology was developed by students at the University of Minnesota.

Now, ReconRobotics manufactures and sells these mobile robots to police departments and military units around the world. There are 850 different agencies, in all, including 15 in Minnesota.

“You can throw it up to 120 feet. You can drop it from a three-story building. You are looking at a run time of one hour on the robot. On the controller, you are looking at two hours,” Blade said.

The Throwbot provides video and audio of a room, from a distance — even through concrete walls. It’s lightweight and small and even has night vision, yet the camera is protected.

“It is enclosed in aluminum casing and a titanium shell to keep it super durable,” Blade said.

It moves as well. Its motion is controlled by a joystick. There’s even a tail to keep the camera in a forward facing direction.

Each Throwbot costs $13,000.


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