The story of Tactical R/C began when our founder, Shawn Mahaney, himself a police officer in Minnesota, faced a scenario all too common in law enforcement today. Shawn and his partners were dispatched to the report of an apartment door that appeared to have been kicked in. The first officers arrived to find the door had indeed been kicked in and their announcements in to the apartment were going unanswered. A police K9 was requested but with officers unable to contact and confirm the whereabouts of the tenant the K9 was not able to deploy out of concern an innocent person was still inside the apartment and at risk of being inadvertently bitten.
Having no other option, many officers in this scenario are forced to make entry, risking their lives and potentially the lives of anyone inside. Shawn, a member of his agency’s SWAT team, made the decision it was safer to not immediately enter the apartment and instead deploy the SWAT team’s tactical robot, a tool he was uniquely fortunate to have access to. Shawn deployed the robot and used its camera to view most of the apartment. Inevitably, Shawn and his partners did have to enter the apartment, but with more information about what they were going in to and a confidence knowing the areas they viewed with the robot were clear of threats. In a locked bathroom of the apartment, not accessible to the robot, officers located a male in a mental health crisis and were able to safely take him in to custody and get him the help he needed.
The successful outcome of that call made Shawn realize the absolute necessity for patrol officers to have access to remote visualization alternatives, such as tactical robots, instead of forcing officers to enter and potentially encountering a use of force situation. Shawn was given permission by his agency to look in to equipping all patrol squads with the same tactical robot used by the SWAT team but quickly learned why they only had one; the robot was over $15,000! Shawn located other similar tactical robots, all of them with integrated cameras, night vision capabilities and other high-tech functions, and all with costs as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars. Specially designed tactical robots were clearly not a feasible option.
Shawn, believing that no officer should be unnecessarily forced to risk their lives simply because the technology that could keep them safe was not affordable, set out to find a solution. Like most police officers in the U.S., Shawn wore a body camera while he worked, but he was also aware his body camera had the ability to live-stream the video footage directly to a cellphone. Remembering his experiences with RC cars as a child, Shawn came up with the idea to mount his body camera to the front of a car and use his cellphone to view the live-stream video from the camera, thus allowing him to remotely pilot the vehicle. Shawn had developed the idea for a vehicle with all the basic functionalities of an expensive tactical robot but at a cost to build that would make it significantly more affordable, and thus more available to law enforcement agencies.
Shawn began testing prototypes of the idea during his SWAT team trainings and discovered its effectiveness and versatility. In the spring of 2020 Shawn partnered with Josh Dean (Chief Technical Officer), experienced in computer technology, robotics, and remote controlled vehicles, and Josh Otis (Chief Customer Officer), experienced in marketing and sales. Since then they have developed and tested the vehicle in training and real life scenarios, and ultimately created the ‘4Sight’, Tactical R/C’s first remote visualization vehicle.