In January, I took some time away to work on the restoration of my HERO 2000 Robot. Among other things, one of the things that I did was to meet with 4 other robotics enthusiasts, all of whom own vintage HERO 2000 robots. We've been calling ourselves the Los Angeles Robot Resurectionists Society and we meet several times a year to work on our robot restoration projects.
What can I say? Some people restore vintage cars, we restore vintage robots.
My family dropped me and HERO off at a friend's house, near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The day went well, and thanks to Kevin, my HERO 2000 now has a working arm again.
I should probably point out that HERO is about the size of a large child and twice as heavy. When I transport him in the car, I buckle him in with a seat belt and restraints, and I cover him with a blanket so that he will not fall out or call attention to himself.
Kelly and I load HERO into the car
On the way home, as the jets flew overhead, I realized that my younger children had never seen or heard an airplane up close, so I decided to drive to a nearby parking lot at the end of the runway so that they could watch the planes land. After several minutes of this, we decided to drive through the airport. As we approached LAX, we could see police cars everywhere, generator powered lighting trucks illuminating the streets, and officers with dogs, search lights, and mirrors (for under-car inspection).
As we approached the security checkpoint for our lane, which was attended by at least a half dozen security agents, I realized that I had, in my car, a remotely piloted vehicle, complete with cameras, antennas, and remote console -- not the kind of thing that one usually brings to an airport. Further, if asked, I had no real purpose for even being at the airport -- no one to pick up and no tickets to go anywhere. It was too late to get out of the security lane and doing so would have only attracted more attention.
HERO 2000 Actively scans the horizon with his Sonar
I told the kids to be quiet and to keep the robot covered with the blanket. We rolled down our windows so that the security officer could look into our car. Despite the obvious occupant hiding under a blanket, they did not say anything. We also have an unusual cargo carrier attached to the back of our car. It has an enclosed storage unit about the size of a 55 gallon drum. No one seemed to notice or care. After a minute, they waived us through.
Sorry, I did not think to take any pictures at the security checkpoint. :-(
So, while it was tense for a moment, it was a relatively uneventful inspection. I was surprised, even disappointed, that no one checked any further. At the same time, I was not about to pull-over, unload a 100 lb robot, and remotely pilot it back to the security checkpoint just to show them what they had missed. That would have made for a more eventful evening.
I bet they don't have wireless HotSpots in jail.