The Sandy Springs Police Department will purchase a small robot designed to be thrown into dangerous buildings for surveillance after the City Council approved accepting grant funding on Sept. 20.

The Throwbot XT robot already owned by the Sandy Springs Police Department, as displayed by Police Chief Ken DeSimone at the Sept. 20 City Council meeting. (Photo John Ruch)

Sandy Springs Police already own one of the throwable robots, called the Throwbot XT, and will spend the $15,894 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice on buying a second one. The robot will be available to the North Metro SWAT Team, a collaborative force with officers from Sandy Springs, Brookhaven, Dunwoody and Johns Creek.

Sandy Springs Police Chief Ken DeSimone poses with a Throwbot XT robot shortly after the City Council approved accepting grant funding to purchase a second one Sept. 20. (Photo John Ruch)

The Throwbot is essentially a set of wheels with a tail to keep it steady and a camera and microphone built into the axle. It’s about 8 inches wide and weighs about 1 pound. The motorized device can be tossed into a doorway or window and then drive around on its own, transmitting video and sound back to officers outside. The camera has an infrared system that allows it to see in darkness.

The robot’s primary use is searching a building for possible armed suspects without putting any officers or police dogs in direct danger, Police Chief Ken DeSimone said. DeSimone, who served as a Marine in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, said he saw Throwbots used there for similar purposes.

DeSimone brought the department’s current Throwbot model and demonstrated its use by tossing it from the podium to the floor in front of the mayor and council’s table. Earlier this year, the council approved the department’s request for the grant amid some “RoboCop” jokes.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.