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      Spotlight on Innovation: ReconRobotics

      Posted on October 20, 2011 at 9:11 AM

      This is part of a series, “Spotlight on Innovation,” featuring companies who will have exhibits in Innovation Hall at the Governor’s Job Summit next week.

      When a tactical police unit is faced with a dangerous situation, reconnaissance can be the difference between life and death. In these cases, it is vital to have a clear sense of the surroundings, the position of the gunmen, and the condition of any other people on the scene. Units looking to get the best recon without putting their men needlessly at risk have turned to an exciting new partner: robots. From an otherwise normal looking office building, adjacent to a golf course in Edina, robots are the business of ReconRobotics.

      The robots that the company builds provide essential assistance to police units and military squads, giving them the recon needed to act safely and decisively. The company’s foremost robot is the Recon Scout Throwbot. With two wheels connected by a cylindrical chassis, the robot resembles a dumbbell. Piloting the robot from a distance, the user receives real-time video from wherever the robot goes.

      These impressive robots got their start thanks to the University of Minnesota Distributed Robotics Laboratory. With funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the National Science Foundation, and other organizations, this University program set out to design, develop and test a variety of different robots and technologies. In 2006, Recon Robotics was formed to commercialize the University’s successes.

      Since then, the company has marketed and sold its products in more than 35 different countries, and its robots have been used by the US Army, Navy and Marine Corps, the US Marshals, DEA, Border Patrol, FBI, and numerous other Federal Agencies. In addition, about 175 municipal law enforcement agencies throughout the world call upon the robots for their SWAT and tactical units to use during high-risk operations.

      ReconRobotics will be present at the Innovation Hall of the Governor’s Job Summit at the St. Paul Crowne Plaza on October 25. With experience as a world-wide distributor of products born in a U of M lab, Recon Robotics is a thriving example of public-private partnership success. This is the sort of essential cooperation that will get Minnesota working again.