The Tohono O’odham Nation provided a large grant to the city of Peoria for the purchase of an Emergency Response Robot to be used in critical and life-saving situations by the emergency and fire departments.
City Manager Jeff Tyne said the robot, likely with wheels and movable arms, will be bought with a $108,000 grant provided by the Tohono O’odham and thanked the nation’s leaders for their support.
“This council and prior councils have worked hard to foster a partnership with the nation, and tonight’s agenda item solidifies this relationship,” Tyne said.
Peoria Fire Chief Bobby Ruiz gave a brief presentation to the council in their Nov. 12 meeting, where he explained the prototype robot. His department is set to test different companies’ models to select the one best suited to aid Peoria emergency and law enforcement agencies: There is no specific date set for testing or purchase.
“It’s similar to the one the police department has for their bomb retrievals and their bomb squad. We think that with different attachments we can use it for hazardous materials incidents and to safely take in meters and meter the air for poisonous gasses and explosive gasses and keep our people out of harm’s way,” he said.
It will be around 44.4 inches-tall, remote-controlled, be able to carry meter equipment, use multiple cameras for different angles of vision, maneuver through rugged terrain such as rocks or upstairs and can travel up to 3,300 feet from the operator without being tethered by cords or other equipment than the remote.
The robot, Ruiz said, can even open doors without always having to just break them down.
“You can actually put a key on one of the arms and tweezers and open a door by the cameras that are on it if there are keys available,” Ruiz said. “We think this will do the trick for us.”
The vote to approve the robot passed unanimously. There were few questions and even fewer doubts that the robot would help change safety in the city.
Mayor Cathy Carlat echoed the sentiment of the council, both in thanking its partners and expressing excitement for the new equipment.
“I am so in favor of not only doing whatever we can to make sure that our firefighters have a safe environment in which to work and to walk into new buildings,” Carlat said. “I wish we would have had this just a little bit earlier, for sure, but I am really pleased that the Tohono O’odham Nation has given us this grant. It is so meaningful and it is probably going to save lives.”