Excuse Me, Officer...

Dubai will soon find robot cops patrolling its streets. A prototype of the new android police officer was seen patrolling the halls of the Gulf Information Technology Exhibition (GITEX), Dubai’s annual computer and electronic trade show.

The prototype can scan faces and was equipped with a touchscreen which can be used to report a crime and process fines for traffic violations. Best of all, it can salute and shake hands — a feat other existing police robots can' really do since they lack the hands to do so.

The robot cop is still in bootcamp, so to speak, with Dubai Police looking to add AI technology that will allow it to "spot people from 10 meters or 20 meters away, approach them and greet them,” explained Major Adnan Ali, Technical Innovations Department Head, last June. They are working with IBM's supercomputer, Watson, and Google to add a virtual assistant system to allow the robot to follow voice commands.

Law Enforcement Assistants

Dubai's version of RoboCop is definitely not the first robot that entered law enforcement service. While it is the first one that can shake hands and salute like a proper police officer, several robots and AI systems have already been used and shown their mettle in real life situations (except in Russia where the police arrested a robot, instead).

Examples include, among others, a robot used by Cleveland police to scan for bombs in the Republican Convention last July; urban combat robots in China; and an intruder-chasing security drone in Japan.

As our robots become better and better, and with AI increasingly becoming more intelligent, it seems inevitable that these be put to good use. What's better than having these serve and protect? Again, rather than fear what may be — that these turn against us — let's first appreciate the help robots can provide for us.

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