Students Accidentally Leave Science Fair Robot On Plane

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VIDEO: ‘False alarm’ at Love Field after ‘robotic device’ prompts evacuation, handcuffed passengers | Crime Blog | Here’s a comment from someone on the Dallas news site that was there…

…They were flying back from kansas city where they attended an honors conference with the great plains honor council. I was at the conference, saw the device, and was on the plane with them coming in from kansas city. This experience exposed some major flaws in the handling of potentially dangerous situations by the tsa and dallas police department as communication regarding the event, instructions regarding evacuation, and our safety were not delivered in a manner that was clear, or even broadcast over an intercom until 20 minutes into the supposed evacuation which was given verbally by the officers to those at the front of the group that was waiting to regain entry to their gates after being asked to move back past gate number 8. Also being april fools day, many people were skeptical when they were told the terminal was being evacuated. Many of the tsa personnel were oblivious to the fact we had even been asked to evacuate. Thankfully it was just a case of mistaken identity, but I hope the tsa and dallas police gain some insight into how to better handle a potentially dangerous situation in the future.

I few people sent in this story, it appears the TSA had the kids back on the plane within the hour and they were able to go home on the flight. As millions of makers out there build things and ultimately travel with them from time to time, this is a good reminder on how fast and scary things can get. I think it’s our job as makers to educate the TSA and the government that the maker movement is huge – we respect precautions, we also know well-trained TSA staff usually do not have any problems with electronics & science projects. Leaving a robot on a plane is different of course, and may cause all sorts of problems, it looks like it could have been worse. I did not know the policy is to handcuff people if they’re just being asked questions.

If you’re wondering what the official policy of the TSA is with maker-made electronics, here’s a quote from them:

“We’re not implying that you cannot travel with these types of items, we’re just pointing out that they could be of concern, or possibly even hold you up a little bit. Listen, we think these things are cool too, but this is just a friendly “heads up” and not a threat.” – Bob (TSA) EoS Blog Team

Maker Faire is coming up, if you’re traveling on planes to the event, keep all this in mind. I realize just by posting this it will cause some “passionate” debate – but I think there’s value in talking about this so we can all work together and travel without too many problems.

If any of the students read MAKE please feel free to post up in the comments.

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