It’s a far cry from the badarse cyborg who served and protected the people of Detroit in the movie RoboCop, but this bizarre extending robot can assist with traffic stops and promises to help make such roadside interactions safer for both police officers and motorists.
Every year, millions of drivers are pulled over. During those stops, thousands of assaults and physical altercations happen, resulting in injuries and even deaths to both police officers and suspects. On top of that, there’s also the risk from other vehicles when a stop is made on the side of a busy road.
Reuben Brewer thinks his creation can help dramatically reduce those numbers, and while the first versions were cobbled together in his garage, he’s now developing his police robot for SRI International in the company’s Applied Technologies and Science Department.
The police robot isn’t designed to replace humans, however. Officers will still make the call of what vehicles to pull over, but when they do, the robot will help create a safe distance between suspects and the police while they both remain in their vehicles during testing.
It’s a telepresence robot that extends on a long arm from a police cruiser to the suspect’s vehicle, facilitating two-way video and audio communications.
But the robot is more than just a video camera on a stick. It’s equipped with a barcode reader allowing a driver’s licence to be quickly scanned, while a thermal printer can churn out tickets and citations that drivers can tear off like a receipt.
As the robot moves alongside a vehicle it also subtly deploys a spike strip under the car, so should a suspect decide to flee, they’ll shred at least one tyre in the process.
The robot certainly won’t cut down on rage incidents. It’s safe to assume that irate suspects will be even more inclined to lash out at a camera and screen shoved in their face. But replacing the bot is easy — replacing an officer is not.
Is the police hat necessary, though?