After Robot Policemen, You Won’t Believe What’s Coming Up Next!


Traffic offenders beware! In the very near future, you may just be stopped by an autonomous police car. In a newly filed patent by US car giant Ford, there are plans to develop an autonomous police vehicle that could be programmed with “machine learning tools (e.g., deep neural networks) to find good hiding spots to catch violators of traffic laws.”

Image from:  Engadget

Image from: Engadget

Similar but exceeding capabilities of the current crop of robot police by security companies, this robot fleet would have immense surveillance capabilities, including references cameras, road sensors, license plate readers, touch sensitive panels, speakers, LIDAR, ultrasound sensors and microphones, satellite connectivity, and radar detectors to record the speed of other vehicles.

What is most interesting is that the patent also puts focus on machine learning and neural networks, which is something which should make us worried if movies like Robocop and The Matrix can be believed.. AI is both rapidly altering law enforcement and prompting alarms from privacy advocates concerned about a dawning surveillance state.

Ford imagines the robocar would connect to “a locally stored record of drivers” or even larger government databases to verify drivers’ licenses, which would be attached to a local network of surveillance cameras that will send signals to robocars when they record traffic violations.. With these powerful recording and storage opportunities, even fleeting interactions with the car could potentially land the public in a database somewhere.

Speaking at a conference in Las Vegas last month, Ford CEO Jim Hackett, said: “The car and the system will be talking to each other. And changing one piece of the system necessarily changes the whole.

“A car obviously is going to learn to drive itself, but the city transportations grid will mutate around what the cars need.

“What we want is the depiction of the city of tomorrow that demonstrates the benefits of introducing these smart vehicles in a smart world for civic life.

“It’s not about the city getting smarter, but about humans having a better day.”

Image from:  My Vehicle Blog

Image from: My Vehicle Blog

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of Ford’s patent is that it states its robocar would be used for “routine police tasks.” Of course, there’s nothing routine about being hunted by an robot police car that learns to hide in foliage like a Green Beret. Right now, officers are using drones to keep tabs on drivers, but this represents the ultimate end of smart policing: a driverless surveillance bot that can’t be harmed, reasoned with, or, stopped.

What do you think about these autonomous police cars that could hit our streets soon? Leave a comment below!

Fun with CarsJoel Wong