Monday, September 26, 2016

BOMB SQUAD - The Newest Member

"How robots are joining the police force" PBS NewsHour 9/21/2016


SUMMARY:  In light of the recent bombings in New York and New Jersey, science correspondent Miles O'Brien takes a look at a new technology that is increasingly being used by law enforcement, bomb-disarming robots.  Operated from a safe distance, these robots can blast through car windows and even kill, raising ethical issues about how they should be used.

MAN:  Everybody, get off the street!

MILES O'BRIEN (NewsHour):  As the pipe and pressure cooker bomb plot unfolded and unraveled in New York and New Jersey, police deployed some remotely operated tools aimed at saving the lives of civilians and bomb squad technicians alike.

In New Jersey, a reminder of the hair-trigger risk they face in harm's way.

At NYPD bomb squad headquarters on City Island a few years ago, Lieutenant Mark Torre gave me a demo using the same robot, the Remotec ANDROS F6A, built by Northrop Grumman.

LT.  MARK TORRE, NYPD Bomb Squad:  Its primary mission is to put distance between our technicians and something of a hazardous nature, because distance in this business is always your friend.

MILES O'BRIEN:  In this scenario, it is believed there may be an explosive in this car.  And it is much more than a hypothetical.  It's what happened in Times Square on May 1 of 2010.

A street vendor discovered a smoldering, abandoned car filled with propane tanks, fertilizer, gasoline and firecrackers.  It was a Saturday evening, the busiest time of the week, in one of the busiest, and most iconic, intersections in the world.

MITCH SILBER, Terrorism Analyst:  Between the scenery, the symbolism, the congestion and it being be just media central for New York City, you can't get much better of a background for terrorists.

MILES O'BRIEN:  Mitch Silber was NYPD's director of intelligence analysis at the time.  He shudders to think what would have happened if the car bomb, built by Pakistani American Faisal Shahzad, had not been a dud.

MITCH SILBER:  It would ripped the car in half, and this is a very busy intersection.  Depending on the congestion of people right around the car, it would certainly kill people, injured and maimed many others.  And it would have been the first big terrorist attack in New York City since 9/11, since 2001, nine years earlier.

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