It’s pretty fair to say that the future is raining down on us at an increasingly alarming rate; we’ve already accomplished self-lacing shoes, under-the-skin chips you can use to pay for groceries and you can even unlock your phone with your face. Technology is advancing faster than ever and the capabilities presented to us are becoming more and more ‘Hollywood’ by the day.
Don’t believe us? Well, we’d be surprised if you didn’t remember the popular 2004 Will Smith hit iRobot. Or perhaps the more recent sci-fi flick, Chappie? Set in the ‘near future’, both films tell the story of a world in use of a robotic police force, and well… that world is here.
Welcome to Real Life Robocop
Well, nearly. This past week, Dubai has announced the newest upcoming member of their police force; a 5’5, 222 lb robot. That’s right, robot. Equipped with facial recognition and the ability to broadcast live video feeds, the first model has already begun patrolling the streets and interacting with the community, however it is not yet on the front lines making arrests. A member of the Dubai Police told Reuters there are distinct conveniences to having non-humans on patrol:
"These kind of robots can work 24/7. They won't ask you for leave, sick leave or maternity leave. It can work around the clock."
In terms of how it can help local residents, they will be able to use the robot for reporting crimes, paying fines and even asking it questions.
“By 2030, Dubai is keen to make robots around 25% of our total police force”
- head of Dubai’s Police Tech division, speaking to reporters at the Gulf Information Security Expo and Conference
Although Dubai is leading the ‘robocop’ industry, they’re not the only country boasting some big tech. Departments in the States use robots first created for use by the American military for training purposes and even bomb diffusing. Just a year ago, Cleveland police used robots on patrol while Dallas police forces took advantage of a robot with a bomb to take out a sniper after losing countless police lives. Even South Korea use robot prison guards and Israeli police use robots as part of their counter-terrorism unit.
Although this is not the first robot to be used by police, it is the first to be on the streets of a city that will eventually be allowed to make arrests and have all the responsibilities of a regular officer. The roll-out will begin over the next decade, so we’ll see if it goes smoothly, or if it’s Will Smith to the rescue…