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STATE POLICE OBTAIN ROBOTS TO COMMUNICATE WITH KIDS

 HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- Using drug forfeiture money, the Pennsylvania State Police has purchased 15 robots for its community service work with elementary school children.
 The robots were put on display for the first time at a Capitol news conference.
 "These fully mobile trooper robots will be used to help us communicate with children on important topics ranging from personal safety to the dangers of substance abuse," said Col. Glenn A. Walp, commissioner of the State Police. "Projecting a positive and friendly image, the robots may also help us reach children who have been traumatized or abused."
 The four-foot tall robots weigh about 80 pounds. Their head, eyes, lips, arms, hands, and mobility work by remote control. The robots have a two-way wireless voice system that enables them to converse with the audience. Each robot is dressed in a State Police uniform complete with campaign hat.
 "To suit specific audiences, interchangeable heads can be used to make the robots male or female, or reflect Pennsylvania's racial diversity," Walp said.
 The robots were purchased with $103,000 in federal drug forfeiture funds. The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency provided another $41,800.
 "Ultimately, the robots will help advance the department's community policing program of attempting to instill self-confidence, self-esteem and self-discipline in young people," Walp said. "Experts indicate that ages 1 to 7 are the crucial formative years. Building positive character traits during this critical time frame will help ensure positive juvenile and adult behavior.
 "If we are to curb juvenile violence and ultimately prevent other crimes from being committed by individuals throughout their lives, it is imperative that we begin building a foundation for a positive self-image during their elementary school years."
 Walp said the robots, which are operated by State Police community service officers, will be distributed to State Police installations across Pennsylvania.
 Last year, Walp assigned 34 full-time community service officers for community policing projects statewide. The officers are to form cooperative and productive relationships with local schools, churches, civic organizations and citizens.
 At today's news conference, Walp announced the department's "Name the Trooper Robot" contests. He said local news conferences will soon be held throughout the state to promote 15 separate contests. The contests, aimed at helping familiarize local elementary school children with their area's trooper robot, will enable kids to choose the name of their area's robot.
 The State Police will treat the contest winners, their parents and teacher/principal to a luncheon; present the contest winners with a certificate of appreciation; and showcase the winner's name in the State Police newsletter.
 Walp thanked Comotion, a professional theater company based in Lancaster, for helping the State Police develop the robot presentations for schools.
 /delval/
 -0- 2/14/94
 /CONTACT: Charles M. Tocci or Sgt. Richard Morris of the Pennsylvania State Police Department, 717-783-5556/


CO: Pennsylvania State Police Department ST: Pennsylvania IN: SU:

JM -- PH026 -- 3053 02/14/94 16:12 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 14, 1994
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