Dubai has revealed its latest law enforcement strategy in the form of robot cop cars.
According to a report in Gulf News on the 27th of June, Dubai will be deploying a fleet of robot cop cars as part of their stated aim to create a robotic police presence of 25% by 2030. Many could easily mistake the tiny robotic vehicle, no taller than a man’s waist, for a child’s toy.
Dubai already uses a robot cop within its tourist shopping areas, enabling foreign tourists to interact with the police in their native language, as well as letting citizens pay fines and obtain general information.
As part of the Smart Dubai initiative, the city’s vision is to “make Dubai the happiest city on Earth, ” and this includes not only a 25% robotic police presence, but 25% autonomous vehicles for use by citizens. Taxi drones will be trialed later this year, and Dubai officials are in talks with companies like Uber.
O-R3 autonomous robotic vehicle
The Dubai Police Force collaborated with Singaporean company OTSAW Digital to obtain the O-R3 autonomous robotic vehicle. This was according to a press release from the company on the 21st of June. Dubai hopes to deploy a fleet of these robotic cop cars by the end of 2017. Nevertheless, there is no intention to remove human police presence from the city.
O-R3 will supply low level law and order enforcement tasks and will act more in a surveillance capacity. The robotic vehicles provide 360-degree ground surveillance, as well as aerial surveillance in the form of a self-launching drone. Additionally, O-R3 utilizes facial recognition software. This software enables it to recognize and alert authorities if it comes in contact with wanted criminals or even individuals who are acting suspiciously.
This robot cop car will also be on duty 24/7 and 365 days a year. Additionally, it has the ability to self-charge and then get straight back on the road. Major General Abdullah Khalifa Almarri, Dubai Police Force Commander explains that they “aim for streets to be safe and peaceful even without heavy police patrol.”
The era of the Robo-Cop
Dubai is not the only country using robotics for crime fighting and maintaining law and order. For example, Greece deploys a drone coast guard containing a life-preserver that can urgently fly to arriving refugees.
South Korea uses semi-autonomous drones carrying machine guns and grenade launchers along its borders with North Korea. And in 2013, the Democratic Republic of Congo installed a solar powered robot traffic cop to enforce road safety and direct traffic.
Nevertheless, some are concerned that a robotic presence in law enforcement creates a “Big Brother” feel to the modern world. Similar to what George Orwell described in his novel 1984. After all, Dubai is notorious for its monitoring of its citizens. When one considers the example of Ahmed Mansoor, it could give many individuals cause to feel concerned.