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Sergeant Roy and Deputy Sterling from the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office S.W.A.T. team were on hand at Monday’s robot competition with Wall-E, a robot weighing 185 lbs, to help the Blue Angels Elementary Rockstar Ninjas of STEM connect their learning, building, and programming of robots to real-world public safety. The Rockstar Ninjas were in awe as they listened to Sergeant Roy describe Wall-E’s capabilities—their “ooohs” and “ahhhs” and cheers similar to those heard when describing Superman, “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” Though not quite Superman-like capabilities, Wall-E:

– Grabs bags, boxes, people, and/or explosives on the ground and push/tow them
– Grips items up to 55 lbs and tows items up to 250 lbs
– Climbs stairs and maneuvers through water
– Includes mounted cameras so officers can see what Wall-E “sees”
– Provides an option to mount a firearm
– Operates 5 to 6 hours

ECSO Walle

Sgt. Roy also described how Wall-E could be used to help people who may be in distress or to increase safety for deputies. One might argue this is the real importance of the Rockstar Ninja’s learning about how to build and program robots, that is, the practical application of their learning. In this case, the practical application relates to public safety and law enforcement. For example, Sgt. Roy shared how Wall-E may enter a house or building first when tear gas is deployed or when deputies are looking for someone that may be hiding inside, or when there is a fire and too hot for fire fighters or deputies to enter. In each of these situations Wall-E can maneuver inside the building and its cameras can send pictures and real-time video to deputies who remain at a safe distance while determining when it may be safe to enter.


The ECSO’s presentation ended with Deputy Sterling demonstrating how Wall-E may be used in a hostage situation to retrieve “demands” left in a notebook or in a bag, to allow the deputy (at a distance) to communicate verbally with the hostage taker, to record any communication, and to provide a real-time video feed of the immediate surroundings. While Deputy Sterling maneuvered Wall-E to pick-up the “demands” notebook, Sgt. Roy shared with the students the importance of their STEM learning, specifically their ability to build and program Wall-E-like robots so that non-experts can use them. This message was later reinforced in the robotics competition’s task, “[Due to theft,] the museum is seeking assistance from robotics experts. The museum has lost its priceless treasure, and needs your help in retrieving one of the world’s most valuable artifacts. Groups must build and program their bots to put the treasure into the safety box so that law enforcement officers can safely return it…” Sounds like a job for Superman the Rockstar Ninjas of STEM!

This is the second in a 4-part series about the robotics event pairing the Blue Angels Elementary’s Rockstar Ninjas of STEM with Gulf Power’s engineers. Part 3 in the series highlights more about other Gulf Power education initiatives.




“Wall-E is a Rockstar Ninja of STEM” post on Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page; viewed 5/13/2014 here.

Johnson, Rob. (May 12, 2014). Are you smarter than a fifth-grade robotics champ? Pensacola News Journal. Article and video available online here.

WEAR TV. (May 12, 2014). “Kids and Robots Competition.” Video available online here.

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