When a Highlands County prisoner escaped and was believed to be holed up in a foreclosed home with a gun two years ago, Boots the robot helped to prevent harm to law enforcement officers and capture the man.
Boots, which is owned by the State Fire Marsh's Office and looks more like a robot out of a primitive science fiction movie than RoboCop, can nevertheless, walk, climb stairs, and serve as a device through which a criminal and law enforcement can communicate. It can even grab objects, do Xrays and destroy improvised explosive devices.
In the escape situation, it helped secure part of the residence.
And Boots may be the first robot to have been awarded a Purple Heart.
In a situation in Polk County, the robot entered a house and a man shot it five times, said Brandon A. Ball, a law enforcement/major/bomb technician with the Bureau of Fire and Arson Investigations in the Division of State Fire Marshall.
The robot likely saved lives "by drawing attention of the bad guy," he said. That meant the criminal wasn't focused on the "deputies coming to get him."
As a result, the Polk County Sheriff's Office awarded the robot its version of the Purple Heart.