ROBO-PLOD! 'Droid snatches scumbag's shotgun in standoff

Californian Elmer Fudd foiled by mechanical means

A stealthy robot run by a Los Angeles SWAT team has successfully disarmed a murder suspect by sneaking up behind him and stealing his weapon.

Ray B Bunge, 52, of Lancaster, California, was on the run from the police after charges of attempted murder, criminal threats, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery and felony vandalism. However, after a foot chase he took refuge in a small dugout dirt berm surrounded by wire.

A standoff ensued. Police brought a helicopter in to get a camera on Bunge and he was spotted holding a firearm. Rather than approach him directly and risk getting shot, both the helicopter and squad cars used their public address systems to try and persuade him to give himself up without a fight.

This didn't work – Bunge was staying where he was – but the police carried on trying to talk him down from in front of the berm. In the meantime, the SWAT team deployed one of their robots to sneak up behind him.

"The robot quietly approached the suspect's position. Through the robot's camera the suspect could be viewed lying on his stomach looking towards the SWAT vehicles," the police report states.

"His gun was observed next to his feet and the robot quickly picked up the weapon without him noticing. The weapon was immediately delivered to SWAT personnel."

After handing over the weapon, the robot returned to the scene and began demolishing the wire about Bunge's dugout. He reached for his shotgun, and only then realised that it was missing. He surrendered without incident.

"Technology is always being tested and used to be more efficient and to provide improved public safety," said the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

"Although this method cannot be used in every incident, the use of robot technology in this instance has proven the safety of all involved."

Then again, robots aren't always so easy-going. In July, Dallas police used a similar robot carrying a bomb to blow up a suspect who was holding them off with firearms. The suspect did not survive the blast. ®

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