[PHOTO AT LEFT - Mechanical Anti-terrorist Concept robot picks up for detonation an improvised explosive device to demonstrate its capabilities at its launching in Makati City yesterday. ERNIE PEÑAREDONDO]

MANILA, OCTOBER 15, 2008 (STAR) By Michael Punongbayan - After months of fine-tuning, the country’s very first Filipino-made bomb disposal robot was presented to the public yesterday as the latest member of the Makati City police force.

Made of aluminum, fiberglass, and engineering plastic, the two feet tall machine was officially named MAC (Mechanical Anti-terrorist Concept) and conferred the rank of Police Inspector, equivalent to captain in the military.

With the “Mission Impossible” theme song playing in the background and despite unfavorable weather conditions, MAC was made to examine and retrieve an explosive device that was brought to a bomb disruptor and safely detonated.

MAC’s ability to approach anything or anyone was also showcased when it was made to bring a cellular phone to a supposed hostage-taker in order to give the police and the suspect a way to communicate.

And just like any modern-day hero with the reputation of being a super agent like Ian Fleming’s James Bond, Makati City’s mechanical friend charmed his way into the hearts of women, who gave him red roses which allowed him to demonstrate how his mechanical hands can grip and hold almost anything.

MAC was developed by engineering professors and students of the Mapua Institute of Technology as the country’s first and so far most reliable bomb disposal robot.

Makati City Police chief Senior Superintendent Gilbert Cruz told The STAR how the robot was conceptualized, and revealed that it might just earn the Philippines a prize in an international robotics competition.

“Inspector MAC and eight Mapua professors and students will be going to China for the contest scheduled October 16 to 21,” Cruz told The STAR in an interview.

According to him, the competition will feature various computer-developed machines and the Philippines will be in it, hopefully to win.

Cruz said Mapua’s brightest minds headed by engineer John Judilla created the bomb disposal robot which will keep policemen out of harm’s way each time they respond to a bomb emergency.

Inspector MAC can be controlled either by attached wires or by remote control, depending on the situation.

“Now, should there be bomb threats, we can conduct bomb disposal operations from a safe distance. We can send MAC instead of sending officers to manually do the job,” Cruz said.

The machine’s current features include griper, drive, field vision, and back vision cameras with night vision capability and the ability to move at a maximum speed of 15 kilometers per hour.

Cruz said Inspector MAC can also test air toxicity levels in case of a chemical explosion.

He took pride in the fact that the robot, which runs on motorcycle batteries, was assembled using locally available materials.

Considering how Makati City receives an average of one bomb threat a week, Inspector MAC is being considered as the Makati City Police’s pride and humble contribution to the continuing fight against terrorism.

Mayor Jejomar Binay commended Cruz for the department’s innovativeness and constant enhancement of its capabilities to maintain peace and order in the city.

“The city government lauds the Makati Police for using advancements in technology in deterring crime. The introduction of the MAC Robot will surely boost the city’s preparedness in keeping the populace safe,” Binay said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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