UNF students fix SWAT robot for Clay County Sheriff's Office

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A partnership between the Clay County Sheriff's Office and the University of North Florida has turned a problem into a win-win situation.

The tactical robot the sheriff's office's SWAT team uses dates back to the 1970s and was unreliable.

The sheriff's office said it would have cost nearly a half-million dollars to replace.

So, UNF engineering students worked with their professor to get the robot up and running again.

That only cost a few thousand dollars, so the project saved money and gave the students a valuable lesson.

"This was stuff they had read about but had never had the opportunity to work on," said Lt. Donnie Deas. "And they got a chance to work on it, and not only work on it but test it and go through and troubleshoot it. So later on in their career, they're actually going to be able to look up when they see something like this and go, 'I know exactly what this is, I've worked on it.'"

Students said they also enjoyed working on a project that had an impact on the community.

"So we had to go and do research, find the company, communicate with them, talk to their senior engineer," said UNF engineering student Alejandro Lepervanche. "We had great conversations and it was a lot of fun."

They spent about two months working on the robot before finishing their work last week.