Theme parks are full of characters, but the newest entry could put a new spin on meet and greet.
A robotic security guard named ROAMEO (Rugged Observation Assistance Mobile Electronic Officer) makes its debut at Six Flags Over Texas this week in Arlington. Another will begin patrolling Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Calif., next week.
But the company behind the technology is especially focused on Orlando, home of Universal Studios and Walt Disney World.
The 6.5-foot, 750-pound autonomous officer looks more like the illegitimate offspring of Wall-E and Baymax than Robocop. It’s equipped with cameras, a touch screen, speakers, and a two-way communication system. And listed among its abilities is recognizing when people are in restricted areas and determining when they’re not wearing face masks.
It can also provide information on ride wait times and tell people how to get to certain attractions. It will not, however, directly respond to infractions.
Robotic Assistance Devices (RAD), the company behind ROAMEO, plans to deploy 100 of the devices this year and told the Orlando Sentinel that it is in talks with Orlando theme park companies now and expected to be in at least one of the city’s parks by the end of 2022, though did not offer details. (Disney World officials told the paper the company was not in contact with RAD.)
Creators say ROAMEO is meant as a supplement to human security guards, rather than replace them. The devices, the company says, can also serve as stopgaps if parks have trouble finding workers for the jobs (which pay an average of $15 to $20 per hour). Skeptics question its effectiveness and note the risk of park visitors’ personal information being stored.
Beyond its work in theme parks, ROAMEO also is about to begin patrols at an unnamed California casino.