SARA H. ASENADOR
Robots, police stations run by artificial intelligence systems and autonomous cars capable of detecting all kinds of infractions could ensure citizens’ safety sooner than we might imagine.
Except for perhaps the most ardent science fiction fans, the vast majority of us today find it hard to imagine filing a police report, being subjected to a routine breathalyser check or receiving a fine without the presence of a police officer. But if Ford’s predictions come true, it is likely that in a few years, patrol cars, armed with all manner of technological innovations, will be the only ones tasked with ensuring the safety of the public.
Last week, the automotive group was granted a patent in which the company details its particular vision of the future police car. In this document, Ford describes in detail an autonomous vehicle equipped with cameras, sensors and an artificial intelligence platform – powered by machine learning – capable not only of navigating the streets independently but also of detecting infractions committed by other drivers without the need for human input. The car could carry out this mission alone or by using the data, it would obtain by connecting to a smart city’s infrastructure. It could also be programmed to carry out certain complementary tasks in addition to the work of the real-life agents, such as, for example, obtaining information about the owners of certain cars immediately.
Besides, according to the patent, it will record incidents and report them to a police officer and be able to issue tickets when necessary or even connect with other intelligent vehicles to notify their drivers that they have broken the law.
WELCOME TO THE SMART POLICE STATION
Ford is not alone in venturing into policing. Last year, China announced plans for an intelligent police station in Wuhan that will operate without any human presence. This initiative is part of the Asian giant’s goal to become a leader in artificial intelligence by 2030.
Among other services, this centre would offer the possibility of carrying out certain procedures, such as renewing ID cards without the need to interact with an agent -thanks to facial recognition techniques developed by the national company Tencent-, a measure aimed at reducing the long waits that Chinese citizens now face. In addition, according to local media reports, it will be possible to take the tests required to obtain a driving licence without the examiners’ presence.
In addition, concerning this futuristic law enforcement concept, there are other projects already in the testing phase, such as Dubai’s REEM police robot. This friendly-looking automaton, manufactured by Spain’s PAL Robotics, is operational 24 hours a day and can identify suspects, investigate and collect evidence. It also allows citizens and tourists in the Emirati city to file complaints or pay fines through it.
Singaporean startup Otsaw Digital has also developed another autonomous police car with a built-in drone, whose main mission is surveillance and perimeter control of small areas. The O-R3, which has not yet reached the market, sends alerts to the authorities if it finds suspicious people or objects and can manage its energy levels without any external intervention. Who knows if one day we will see it in uniform, guarding the streets of our city.