Dubai wants robotic cops… soon

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  • A citizen using REEM's interactive display service in Dubai mall. Image credit: PAL Robotics
Date:26 May 2017 Author: Jorika Moore Tags:, , ,

Robotic cops are an old sci-fi idea, but in Dubai it has become a reality. A robotic police officer was added to the police service, marks the first phase of robot integration into the police force.

Brigadier Khalid Nassar Alrazooqi is the director of the Smart Services Department at Dubai Police and the man responsible for the robotic cops project. He says the city hopes that robots will make up 25 per cent of its police service by 2030.

Designed by PAL Robotics, the REEM robot was first unveiled in 2011, and subsequently adapted for its service in Dubai.

The robotic cop is a full-sized humanoid that weighs 100 kg and is a 1.7 metres tall wheel-based service robot that can talk and understands several languages. REEM has a eight hour battery life, so far the longest found in a humanoid robot of its size.

The robot won’t be equipped with a firearm any time soon, if ever, but will hopefully become a fully-functional robot that performs work like any other police officer. Some robot’s duties will include working as an officer receptionist and helping citizens report crimes.

The robotic cops will also be patrolling the Dubai mall as seen here and tourist attractions across the city for now.

Visitors can ask the robot questions, pay fines and access a variety of police information via its purpose-built software. It’s facial recognition technology is only eighty percent accurate, but the robot’s camera eyes will send live feeds to a command control centre for analysis.

The robot isn’t able to arrest anyone or chase possible suspects, but Dubai police is reportedly working towards training a robot that would be able to do so eventually.

The biggest current concern is ethical in nature. Some are asking who would be culpable if a robot makes a morally questionable decision and hurts someone during a criminal situation? This is only the beginning of a continuous ethical debate we’ll face as robots become more integrated into our everyday lives.