OCEAN CITY — Andros has a penchant for taking on bad guys.
Andros works for the FBI and has been trained to handle a hostage situation or a gunman holed up in a building.
In many cases, Andros' name would be the first called -- not because of extraordinary skills, but because if anything happened to Andros, it would be no great loss.
Andros is a robot.
"Unbelievable," Westminster Police Chief Sam Leppo said as he watched FBI agents demonstrate Andros on Monday.
The demonstration was one of many exhibits featured during the annual convention of the Maryland MunicipalLeague. More than 400 government officials from across the state aregathered here for the three-day convention, and the FBI wanted to showcase some of its latest technology.
"I've seen equipment like this before but only in the movies," Leppo said.
Agent Les Hayes, a hostage rescue specialist, said the FBI also wants local government officials to know that Andros is available to them should a crisis arise in their jurisdiction.
The robot's home is in Quantico, Va., but a call to the FBI's Baltimore office could bring Andros to the scene in a matter of hours, Hayes said.
Built in 1988 at a cost of $82,000, the robot looks like a cross between a moon rover and a riding mower. The unit is about 3 1/2 feet high, 5 feet long and 3 feet wide, weighs 720 pounds and gets around on six tracks, similar to a tank.
Andros is operated from a van that can control the robot from several hundred feet.
Two closed-circuit cameras on Andros send images back to the van. The operator can talk through the robot using a speaker and microphone system.
Using its pincer limbs, Andros can pick up a key and unlock a door, which it can then open and enter.
Andros' foremost function during a hostage situation, for example, would be as a communication device between negotiators and perpetrators.But the robot also could transport items -- such as food and water -- to and from the scene.
If necessary, the unit can be mounted with equipment such as a tear-gas grenade launcher.
The robot's greatest advantage, though, is that it is a machine that can perform tasksin a potentially dangerous situation.
"We'd rather have a robot run into harm's way instead of one of us," Hayes said.