From robocops to robocars, Dubai takes crime-fighting seriously

30 Jun 2017

Dubai. Image: Kertu/Shutterstock

Dubai’s enthusiasm for cutting-edge crime-fighting technology continues unabated, with autonomous police cars soon to appear.

What has no hands, no legs, no head and a thirst for fighting crime? One of Dubai’s autonomous, self-driving police cars, of course.

Expected to hit the streets before the end of 2017, the vehicles are quite small, around the size of a child’s toy car, and, according to Gulf News, they’re souped up with the latest technology.

“The robotic vehicles will be equipped with biometric software to scan for wanted criminals and undesirables who are suspected or are breaking laws,” said the report, with some surprising assistance for when the vehicles are out of their depth.

A companion drone can be released and monitored, much like the vehicles, from the Dubai Police command room.

“Dubai Police are keen to get the latest technology to fight crime,” said police chief Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri.

“We always search for the best technology to serve our police work for a safer and smarter city. We seek to augment operations with the help of technology such as robots. We aim for streets to be safe and peaceful even without heavy police patrol.”

Of course, this isn’t the only initiative Dubai is investigating, as it pushes the smart city ethos as hard as possible.

Last month, Dubai Police revealed ‘Robocop’, a 100kg robot destined to patrol the city streets and offer advice to passers-by.

The robot was launched at the opening of the Gulf Information Security Expo and Conference, and was then tasked with patrolling the event before being sent out into the city.

Its designers said it marks an ideal platform for internet of things and artificial intelligence technology.

The robot’s hardware will enable it to scan a person’s face to determine their emotions from up to 1.5 metres away. It can then change its mood accordingly to help them. In the event of a crime, its facial recognition software will record a criminal’s face and live-stream it back to police headquarters.

The robocar fleet, officially named O-R3, will act in a similar way. They are the prize creation of Singapore-based start-up OTSAW Digital, which said they will be used for everyday patrols, to “fulfil low-level order enforcement tasks”.

All of these creations are here to augment, rather than replace, the traditional police force.

Dubai. Image: Kertu/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic