November 4, 2008 Popular Mechanics reports that California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has agreed to test remote-controlled, 1.2-pound surveillance robots in hostile prison situations. The Recon Scouts are produced by ReconRobotics, and roughly 250 are currently used by law enforcement agencies throughout the US, and military personnel in Iraq. Under the agreement, ten of the robots will be used in Californian prisons, and the CDCR will provide feedback to the company.

After pulling an activation pin, the hardy robots can be thrown into place, or fired from a tear-gas launcher. They can survive a 30-foot drop onto concrete, and the lack of an on/off switch prevents them from being accidentally shut down on impact. They can be operated from up to 100 feet away by a handheld controller, which displays footage from the robot. The robots cost US$6000, ($9000 with an IR camera).

An additional command monitoring kit includes an antenna and software that can record and display the footage from the robot. If the robot is disabled, users can study the images it captured frame-by-frame.