Well, it’s a couple of decades early and it’s not in Detriot, Michigan, but the world has its first Robocop.
Complete with a uniform comprised entirely of a police officer’s hat, the robocop, which identifies itself as Dubai Police Robot, is programmed to patrol tourist spots, providing information via its touchscreen, being used to report crimes and can identify suspects using advanced facial recognition technology. It can also speak nine languages and provide live video feed directly to police headquarters. It can even be used as a pay station for settling fines.
While this might be somewhat distant from what many would think of at the word “Robocop”, the Dubai police department is confident that they can have as much as 25% of their police force made up of robots by 2030. Brigadier Khalid Nasser Alrazoonqi, the general director of the Dubai PD’s Smart Services Department, reportedly told CNN that there are plans in place to develop the robotic officers into “fully functional robot[s] that can work as normal police officer[s]”.
The prospect of a machine with the ability and apparent authority to engage hostile suspects and make arrests is raising a few eyebrows, to say the least. Robot police officers won’t be the only ones receiving a technological upgrade though. Fans of the original Robocop film will recall that when an entirely robotic police officer proved to be inefficient, or even dangerous, a human mind was needed to make judgments that machines couldn’t. Something similar may already be in the pipeline in Dubai as well. According to Forbes, there are plans to introduce 3-metre tall robots capable of running up to 80kph, which would be piloted by a human from a cabin inside the robot.
Some remain skeptical about the ability of a machine to perform such a vital role, or even fear the risks involved in giving authority of any kind to an autonomous robot. Nonetheless, it is comforting to see advances being made to equip law enforcement with tireless, state of the art officers designed to protect and inform. For the time being at least, Dubai Police Robot seems harmless and closer to Wall-e than Terminator, even if only slightly.