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This Robot Collects Fingerprints 188

Posted by timothy
from the maybe-autographs-too dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "When police officers found suspicious packages today in an airport or a train station, they destroyed them immediately, along with potential fingerprints on them. A new robotic device, dubbed RAFFE (short for "Robot Accessory for Fuming Fingerprint Evidence), developed by scientists from the University of Toronto (U of T) and the University of Calgary, offers a solution to this problem. Mounted on an ordinary robot, it will reveal fingerprints by releasing Super Glue on the object. Then it will take pictures of these fingerprints. The Calgary Police Service is already using RAFFE for field tests. This overview contains more details and extra references."
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This Robot Collects Fingerprints

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @02:53PM (#8932054)

    Mounted on an ordinary robot

    Great, the T-1000 series try to extinguish humanity by smothering us with Super Glue fumes.
  • by r_glen (679664) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @02:54PM (#8932056)
    Squirt gun - age 7
    Remote control vehicle - age 10
    Camera - age 14

    Dammit, I could have invented this thing 10 years ago!
  • by alen (225700)
    right to privately leave unmarked packages in an airport?
    • Re:Isn't there a (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Frnknstn (663642) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @03:03PM (#8932183) Homepage
      No. At the very least it is littering.
    • by David Hume (200499) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @03:27PM (#8932421) Homepage

      Isn't there a right to privately leave unmarked packages in an airport?


      I'm not sure if you are joking, but if you are not you may want to look at the U.S. Supreme Court decision in California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35 (1988) [cornell.edu]. The Court stated:

      The issue here is whether the Fourth Amendment prohibits the warrantless search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside the curtilage of a home. We conclude, in accordance with the vast majority of lower courts that have addressed the issue, that it does not.


      I understand that this is not directly on point in that it concerns garbage. However, in this age of terrorism I very much doubt that the Supreme Court is going to hold that the authorities cannot take fingerprints off of a package apparently abandoned at an airport, train station, etc.

      • The issue here is whether the Fourth Amendment prohibits the warrantless search and seizure of garbage left for collection outside the curtilage of a home. We conclude, in accordance with the vast majority of lower courts that have addressed the issue, that it does not.

        Doesn't trash that is left outside become the property of the council or the collecting agency? I remember a big fuss being made about unscrupulous paper recyclers who were driving around the streets in the early morning and picking up bun
    • Nothing wrong with leaving an unmarked package at an airport.... But if it is done on purpose (and given the current level of paranoia around airoports), it could easily ammount to a 'mischeif' charge.

      But, if your package contains 10KG of plastique, then you can expect a long, undocumented, 'vacation' in Cuba [kwc.edu].

  • by Jaywalk (94910) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @02:54PM (#8932063) Homepage
    I can just see a Looney Tune scenario in the making when someone touches a bomb covered with Super Glue . . .

    (Oh, admit it. You thought the same thing.)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @02:54PM (#8932064)
    ...a glue-sniffing robot. I can already see hordes of them loitering on street corners in dingy Slipknot t-shirts pestering me for change.

  • Proud Canadian (Score:4, Informative)

    by dolo666 (195584) * on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @02:55PM (#8932070) Journal
    I'm Canadian and I'm always really happy when I hear of advances in science from our great nation. I'm tired of hearing Canada being labled as a safe-haven for terrorists, and it makes me proud to know that our universities are continuing to contribute to the capture and conviction of terrorists all over the world. By securing the lives of law enforcement officials everywhere, Canada has contributed to making everyone safer, and in turn, improving the quality of life in America. I also can't wait to see an episode of CSI (or CSI Miami) with this little techno-wonder in action!
    • I don't know why, but when I first glanced at this post, I mentally inserted a period after the seventh word:

      I'm Canadian and I'm always really happy.

      :)
    • Thank you, Canada, I feel so much safer now we have a finger-print robot. I'm sure it will save the 10's of thousands of lives lost every year to suspicious packages. No wait, that's automobiles. Never mind.
    • I'm tired of hearing Canada being labled as a safe-haven for terrorists...

      Well, you could just stop watching Fox News. :)
    • By securing the lives of law enforcement officials everywhere, Canada has contributed to making everyone safer, and in turn, improving the quality of life in America.

      You seem pretty quick to ascribe credit to your nation for this. Why? It's not like Canada is really a haven for terrorists, like all the right-wing American T.V. stations claim. Canada has nothing to prove to the States.
    • Re:Proud Canadian (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ergo98 (9391)
      As a fellow Canadian, I find your post grovelling, pandering, and embarrasing. As another poster said: We have nothing to prove. This is just another academic advance from another of the world's research institutes, and it's rather pathetic to "see! We matter!" with it.

      In any case, do you really think the far-right in the US, the people who will say and do whatever they want to support their pet projects, care about facts (this'll make em see the light)? Of course they don't. They care about promoting xeno
  • Super (Score:4, Funny)

    by blackmonday (607916) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @02:56PM (#8932085) Homepage
    Last time I used Super Glue I glued by thumb and index finger together for an hour. I hope this robot is better at sticking that little pin in the container than I am.

    • ever notice how CA (cyanoacrylate) says that it "BONDS SKIN INSTANTLY" but makes no such promises about anything else?
  • Super glue? (Score:2, Funny)

    by SCSi (17797)
    Cue jokes about Johnny-5 super-gluing himself to random objects.
  • But.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by BorkBorkBork6000 (769812) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @02:56PM (#8932094)
    Wouldn't it be much cheaper to hire the homeless or students to take the prints?
    • True story.. a friend of mine used to sell robotic bomb-finding machines. They had a 85% success rate of defusing bombs. They cost about 10 million US to purchase.

      A Russian military person was interested in the machines, until he found out that if the robot failed to defuse the bomb, they usually were broken beyond repair.

      He said "We'll just stick to using soldiers. They're much cheaper"

      Nice. :)
  • by gevmage (213603) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @02:59PM (#8932125) Homepage
    I wonder how this is going to hold up in court? Are digital photographs of the fingerprints (I assume that's how the pics are taken) submittable as evidence in a court of law?

    I think it's a terrific idea, but the first time it's used, there's going to be a huge fight about the guarantee of authenticity of the prints.
    • I can't imagine making it a film camera really has much more in the way of security for the integrity of the image.... I suppose you could come up with some way to MD5 hash the incoming data stream and digitally sign the hash or something....

    • > Are digital photographs of the fingerprints... submittable as evidence in a court of law?

      Under the PATRIOT act, a model of the fingerprints sculpted entirely out of CHEEZ-WHIZ would be admissable.

      "...because if we can't use creamy, cheezy goodness to keep this nation safe, then the terrorists have already won." - John Ashcroft

    • Why would the authenticity be questioned more than with current methods of taking prints? In the end it comes down to trusting that the police are not fabricating the evidence, and I don't think this system makes it any easier to fabricate fingerprints than it already is.
    • It's a good point, but probably moot. Just because it's not admissible in court doesn't mean that the police/FBI can't use it to investigate the crime. And find such fingerprints would be more than sufficient probable cause to issue a search warrant, where (if the suspect is in fact guilty) admissible evidence can be found. At that point, the authenticity of the fingerprints really doesn't matter too much.
      • And find such fingerprints would be more than sufficient probable cause to issue a search warrant, where (if the suspect is in fact guilty) admissible evidence can be found.

        Um, no. If the search warrant was issued based on invalid evidence, the product of the search can be thrown out.

        • You're right up to a point, but you're missing a critical distinction between inadmissible and "invalid." The police don't have to have admissible evidence in order to have probable cause and get a search warrant, just a reasonable basis for more than a mere suspicion.

          If the evidence is "invalid," by which I'm assuming you mean that it is false or doctored in some way, you're right that the warrant might be invalidated -- BUT there's a world of difference between the police having to prove that a techni
      • At that point, the authenticity of the fingerprints really doesn't matter too much.
        Enemy of the State, anyone? Go 2-3 levels up: plant some "evidence" in the target's home, make him look like a mafia-man/drug-dealer/child-molester, then it doesn't really matter if the fingerprints were real - people will know he's lying even before he opens his mouth.
        Scary stuff (and best-of-what-I-remember-now quote)

        .
    • I wonder how this is going to hold up in court? Are digital photographs of the fingerprints (I assume that's how the pics are taken) submittable as evidence in a court of law?

      Of course, it's the same method used to take fingerprints today. The only difference is the "robot".

    • the medium (digital, negative, lifting, etc) is not the issue, it's how the prints are analysed and compared.

      the lawyers tend to question the fingerprint examiner's ability more than the chain of evidence in these cases.
  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @02:59PM (#8932130) Homepage Journal
    In one of his cop films? And here I thought it was just Hollywood being typical (i.e. getting science and technology incorrect)

    Who knew, all these years, that super glue *does* pick up fingerprints?!
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @03:01PM (#8932158) Homepage Journal
    When police officers found suspicious packages today in an airport or a train station, they destroyed them immediately, along with potential fingerprints on them.

    This introductory sentence makes it sound like there was some *specific* event today at the airport or bus station involving suspicious packages and police officers.

    Though gramatically correct, it is a matter of practice in written/spoken English to use the present tense when generalizing as in: "When police officers find suspicious packages today in an airport or a train station, they destroy them immediately, along with potential fingerprints on them."

    I wouldn't even have bothered pointing this out, but that blurb made me scurry over to http://news.google.com for a look-see. Good story though.

    • It not gramatically correct, and that is why it is confusing as hell.

      The reason it is not gramatically correct, is because of the the OR clause.

      Lets analize in detail..First part is "When police officeres found sucpicious pakes today", this means the author is talking about a perticular incident , that took place sometime today. But then he goes on to say "in an Airport OR a train station", This does not make gramatical sence. If the author is speaking of a perticular incident, then there should be no a

      • I am nitpicking.... (Score:2, Informative)

        by hopemafia (155867)
        Never before have I seen a Grammar Nazi with worse grammar.

        It not gramatically correct, and that is why it is confusing as hell.

        Is is a small word, but it is necessary after "It" in this case.

        The reason it is not gramatically correct, is because of the the OR clause.

        No comma is needed in this sentence and "the" is repeated.

        Lets analize in detail..

        I think you must mean analyse...I don't even want to think about detailed analizing. It's also a sentence fragment (no subject) and is followed by ".."
  • by RichMan (8097) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @03:02PM (#8932165)
    Why do people keep calling remote controlled devices robots?

    A robot is an autonomous object responding to its environment.
    A remote controlled device is under direct control.

    We call them
    Remote Controlled Cars
    Remote Controlled Planes
    these are clearly not "ROBOTS".

    Why are the more esoteric remote controlled devices called robots?
    • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @03:03PM (#8932181) Homepage Journal

      Why are the more esoteric remote controlled devices called robots?

      I call my RealDoll "Becky".
    • Then what do you call those machines with arms in automobile factories that put the porducts together, lowlevel mechanical employees?
    • dictionary.com: robot ( P ) A mechanical device that sometimes resembles a human and is capable of performing a variety of often complex human tasks on command or by being programmed in advance. A machine or device that operates automatically or by remote control. A person who works mechanically without original thought, especially one who responds automatically to the commands of others. +4 Insightful because he can't use a dictionary? Please.
    • We call them
      Remote Controlled Cars
      Remote Controlled Planes
      these are clearly not "ROBOTS".


      This is because, clearly we have drifted away from the strict definition of a robot as an autonomous machine. Instead what we do, as soon as you've given a machine the facility to pick something up and manipulate that something, that defines it as a robot. Take an RC car for example, and mount a, um, robot arm (what else can we call it?) on top. Voila, you have a robot car. It's not technically correct,
  • by ArbiterOne (715233) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @03:03PM (#8932174) Homepage
    "Sir..." "What?" "The robot appears to have glued its fingers together, sir..." "Darnit! Do we have any nail polish remover?"
  • by poptones (653660) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @03:03PM (#8932175) Journal
    This is definitely one of those "Doh!" moments. As in "why didn't I think of that?"

    With all the crap patents we hear about in this forum, it's great to read about a simple, obvious invention that someone actually invented - an idea that's actually worth some real credit.

    But it still makes me wanna kick myself for not thinking of it first.

    • "But it still makes me wanna kick myself for not thinking of it first."

      That's how you know it's a really good idea. I think there's a hierarchy, from good to bad:

      Initial reactions to new inventions:
      1) How the hell did someone come up with that? It's brilliant!
      2) Why didn't I think of that?
      3) I don't get it.
      4) Who thought that was a good idea?

      -Mark

  • by ArmenTanzarian (210418) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @03:04PM (#8932192) Homepage Journal
    Two members of the bomb squad, like a modern day odd couple and their lovable sarcastic robot friend who squirts super glue on them. Hijinx... ready.... GO!!!1
    • better yet, I smell a reality TV show, hot semi nude chicks , competing against robots, to defuse live bombs. And to add, shocking surprising elements , make some bombs irreversible. kick a55.
    • Two members of the bomb squad, like a modern day odd couple and their lovable sarcastic robot friend

      How about the movie "Runaway" with Tom Sellick?

      http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0088024/

  • by Saeger (456549) <farrellj&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @03:08PM (#8932223) Homepage
    In other news, the Bomb Squad labor union is threatening to strike if management decides to replace their jobs with cheaper, more productive robots. [blogspot.com]

    Also, loss of life doesn't seem to be an issue here... apparently being on the bomb squad gets you laid almost as much as being a post-9/11 fireman.

    --

  • by tomhudson (43916) <`moc.nosduh-arab ... `nosduh.arabrab'> on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @03:08PM (#8932230) Journal
    This Robot Collects Fingerprints
    So does my monitor, my TV screen, the fridge, windows, etc. Can I have my grant now?

    (Yeah, I RTFA. It's a joke :-)

  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by teamhasnoi (554944) <.teamhasnoi. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @03:11PM (#8932262) Homepage Journal
    Wouldn't any self-respecting bomb maker wear gloves, or superglue his/her own fingerprints to make them illegible?

    Or better yet, involve someone to handle the package for him/her, throwing the trail off?

    This is only going to catch the dummies, who most likely have already blown themselves up.

    • Wouldn't any self-respecting bomb maker wear gloves, or superglue his/her own fingerprints to make them illegible?

      You're assuming the fingerprints would be by the people involved with the bomb. The packaging may have the finger prints by someone who sold the goods in question, or shopped at the store. While they may not be a suspect, they might be able to ID the person who bought the stuff.
    • This is only going to catch the dummies, who most likely have already blown themselves up.

      If at first you don't succeed, maybe bombmaking isn't for you.
      I had always heard it as 'Skydiving' but it kinda works.

      --
  • Where do I get an ordinary robot?

    What is an "ordinary" robot? It's not like I can go to the local robot dealer and look at base model "ordinary" robots vs the sports package or "pleasure model" AWESOM-O 4000.

    Please define "ordinary robot". Most of the robots I see in cartoons or movies are quite extraordinary. Thanks in advance, bitches.
  • by Wiseazz (267052) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @03:14PM (#8932288)
    That's just vague enough to work.

    An ordinary "bomb disposal" robot would be better. I might also take exception to the term "robot", if I wanted to be a jerk about it.

    Good idea, though. I'm sure if they thought about it, they could add a whole swiss-army knife's worth of gadgets to the arms on those things.
  • by blueZ3 (744446) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @03:17PM (#8932316) Homepage
    glued itself to the bomb!
  • Now we might see some slimy bomb makers rigging detonators with chemical detectors. As soon as the robot fumagates the package it detonates....no more robot.

    I always wondered why bombers leave these things behind in rather conspicious places for long periods of time. Its almost as if they want the bombs to be found before they detonate...seems like a short fuse and a decent hiding place would serve them better.
    • Remlik wrote I always wondered why bombers leave these things behind in rather conspicious places for long periods of time. Its almost as if they want the bombs to be found before they detonate...seems like a short fuse and a decent hiding place would serve them better.

      From what I understand, bombers are a criminal class unto themselves - Theodore Kaczynski (the Unabomber) actually fit the "profile" quite closely. They are generally very timid and afraid of confrontation (which is why they leave bombs)
  • by CPM User (582899) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @03:54PM (#8932705)
    Many years ago now, we had a job to do in Belfast, and after work we got very drunk in a pub. We left the car parked directly outside the pub and when we returned for it in the morning, the army had blown it up after someone had phoned in some car bomb threat. It later turned out that our insurance did not cover this sort of thing.

    Fortunately, it wasn't me that had to explain what had happened to the shiny new company car.

  • by Sloppy (14984) *
    Mounted on an ordinary robot..
    I guess it really is the 21st century, when people start using phrases like "ordinary robot." Now where's my suitcase-car?
  • This is a bomb disposal robot enhanced with the ability to attempt to pick up fingerprints from the packaging prior to the destruction thereof. Yes, prints can still be gotten from the contents - even if a bomb explodes - but the package may have been left by someone else. Also, prints from shrapnel are less likely to be whole and distinct. A logical addition to the features of this robot. Unfortunately, the counter-measure taken by terrorists is easy - wear gloves or have the box handled by so many peo
  • by trb (8509)
    my laptop screen collects fingerprints, and i bet it's cheaper than this fancy robot.
  • So now if you lose your luggage you can look forward to being held in jail indefinitely as a suspected terrorist. Sweet.
  • ...of taking pictures of things before you blow the shit out of them.
  • by xRelisH (647464) on Wednesday April 21, 2004 @08:16PM (#8934970)
    Is it made out of wood and will it play hockey?
  • ... because at first I thought it said they were using Raffi to defuse suspicious packages.

  • by Jade E. 2 (313290) <slashdot.perlstorm@net> on Thursday April 22, 2004 @01:22AM (#8936332) Homepage
    The technicians watch the screen closely as the hot fumes settle over the bomb, 2 blocks away. They're looking for any sign of fingerprints, ready to aim and snap a shot with the remote unit's secondary, high-res camera as soon as they show up. Faint areas start to stand out in a strange pattern... And soon they realize it's a word... "B"... "BO"... "BOO"... "BOOM"... "BOOM!"...

    As the fumes adhere to the drop of oil on the small light sensor in the dot of the exlamation point, covering it in an opaque white coating, there's a faint click deep inside the bomb.

    "Damnit, that robot was expensive!" the squad captain says to his lieutenant, as they huddle behind their van, debris raining down around them.

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