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Students in Southwestern Community College’s mechatronics engineering program have created a SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) robot for the Macon County Sheriff’s Office. The students’ development is designed to reduce damage to property and even save lives.

According to, the device will enter dangerous environments such as hostage situations and relay information through cameras and microphones to law enforcement officials about what is going on inside the building before they enter.

“We constructed our prototypes out of cardboard so we could easily see where and how parts needed to be modified,” said Dakoda Hall, a second-year mechatronics engineering student from Bryson City.

The robot is operated by a controller with an attached screen that can show in real-time what the robot records on its camera. It also has a microphone and headlights so it can record in the dark.

“The SWAT robot is very cost-effective,” said Jim Falbo, SCC’s mechatronics instructor. “These robots that you see on the news cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to make. The one we built cost just under $4,000 and comes with a lifetime of repairs from SCC’s mechatronics program.”

The robot’s battery life lasts around two hours when the robot is operating and moving, but the robot can be stationary and record for up to eight hours.

While the robot cannot go up and down stairs, it can easily be picked up and set where it needs to be and go 300 – 400 feet away from the controller.

The robot is equipped with “claws” that are designed to carry a bag phone to and from law enforcement officials so they can communicate. The robot can grab onto the straps of the bag and then, upon prompting from the controller, release the straps.

“The Macon County Sheriff’s Office is stoked to be getting this robot,” said Falbo. “We encourage any other law enforcement departments to reach out to us if they are interested in one of these robots. We would like to make this an annual project.”