Gwinnett police to add $183K robot to SWAT

LAWRENCEVILLE - MacGyver need not apply for work in Gwinnett County.

Gwinnett police announced this past week they'll purchase another high-tech, bomb-handling robot that specializes in hazardous materials.

The new robot will cost the county about $183,000. It weighs nearly 500 pounds and is equipped with a low-light, color video camera and an advanced audio system.

It can also climb stairs.

Gwinnett police Chief Charles Walters said the additional robot will allow police to help other agencies while keeping themselves covered.

"This second robot will allow us to respond to multiple incidents at once or to maintain capability in case of mechanical problems," said Walters.

The robot - a Remotec F6A, to be specific - will assist SWAT teams that encounter explosives or other hazardous materials. Its operators must complete several days of training.

The department's current robot is about 5 or 6 years old, said Gwinnett police spokesperson Cpl. Illana Spellman. That robot has also come in handy "on any calls with barricaded persons that are armed," she said.

For security reasons, Spellman couldn't divulge too much about the robot's specific capabilities, she said.

Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners approved the robot purchase at a meeting Tuesday.

"We are continuing to improve public safety throughout the county," said Commission Chairman Charles Bannister. "This purchase is just one of the ways we are doing that."