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[FEATURED NEWS] Tasering Crime Away With Mobile Robots

Ever seen a crime show on television before? Chances are you’ve seen a policeman use a Taser to take down a criminal. But have you ever wondered how easy it is to use a Taser, and to use it safely?

Actually, it’s not as easy as it appears to aim a Taser with perfect accuracy and timing. Training police officers to use these weapons properly is vital, as improper use can cause serious injuries, even death. Such considerations were at the forefront of SPF and HTX’s decision to trial customised prototypes of Mobile Taser Training Targets (MTTT) with SPF frontline units for three months from July to September 2021, with the aim of using them in future training sessions.

Currently, police training requires a role player to don a padded suit and act as the suspect during taser scenario-based training. This requires additional manpower and may cause physical injury. Enter the Mobile Taser Training Target (MTTT), a remote-controlled human-looking robot on wheels. MTTT replaces the ‘man-in-suit’ role-player, using advanced computer vision technology to detect the landing points of taser probes on the training target. Equipped with auditory capabilities, it can also project audio to reflect hits and misses, and realistically simulate the physical engagement between suspect and officer.

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Figure 1: Two police officers confront a Mobile Taser Training Target (MTTT) in scenario-based training (Credit: Home Team Academy) 

What are the benefits?

Improvement of Training Efficiency and Effectiveness

MTTT’s embedded Advance Performance Enhancement & Analysis Range System software collects training data, such as the landing points and distances between probes, in order to carry out post-training evaluation for trainees. With such specific training data pinpointing areas for improvement, police trainees can better understand their own strengths and weaknesses in deploying the taser. 

Improvement of Training Safety

Besides reducing the risk of injury during scenario-based training, MTTT also reduces physical contact during training, which is especially useful during a global pandemic like COVID-19.

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Figure 2: Simulation of police officers confronting an armed perpetrator using the Mobile Taser Training Target (MTTT) (Credit: Home Team Academy)

Should this trial prove successful, frontline officers can look forward to the implementation of MTTT for training in future. One individual excited about MTTT’s potential benefits to the police force is Dr. Rensheng Deng, an expert in human modelling and simulation from HTX's Human Factors & Simulation Centre of Expertise, who played a leading role in modifying MTTT for SPF’s use. As a HTX Lead Scientist, Rensheng is always on the lookout for innovative technologies that can augment HTX’s efforts to force-multiply the Home Team through science and technology, so he immediately recognised the potential that MTTT offered for this purpose. “My role is to leverage innovation and advanced technology to augment training and human performance for our Home Team officers. MTTT allows us to improve the taser scenario-based training’s effectiveness, and enhance human safety and performance.”

Rensheng’s work, however, does not end here – even as MTTT undergoes trials, he is thinking of ways to improve the robotic system even further. “As this is trialled, our ambition is to continue to explore enhancements and modifications to the system to augment other forms of training.” 

Police work may be challenging, but new technologies like MTTT can help to mitigate the risks involved. The next time you settle down to watch an episode of your favourite cop show, do think of Rensheng and his Robot Target!