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February 2, 2006

Program aids Super Bowl security

Pitt’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence (IEE) FirstLink program is playing a role in enhancing security at Super Bowl XL set for Feb. 5 in Detroit.

IEE, housed in the Katz Graduate School of Business, established FirstLink in 2004 to identify military technologies available for license and to facilitate the commercialization of those products that lend themselves to civilian use by first responders, including police, firefighters, paramedics and the National Guard.

FirstLink introduced the NFL’s security office to an advanced robotics technology called the omni-directional inspection system (ODIS), which performs under-vehicle inspections for contraband or explosives. The NFL ordered six ODIS units for use at Super Bowl XL.

At only four inches high, and weighing about 30 pounds, the remote-controlled ODIS can travel under virtually every type of vehicle while its multiple on-board computers and video cameras capture detailed images and relay them to an operator safely removed at distances up to 100 meters.

More than 20 units currently are deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and have a proven record of saving U.S. forces from injury and death.

Although ODIS has been used in other prominent civilian settings — at the U.S. Capitol, for example, and at the high-profile trial of convicted sniper John Lee Malvo — Super Bowl XL will be the largest civilian event at which it has been deployed.

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