Robotic police officer salutes

Robotic police officer to join Dubai police force

Image credit: Reuters

A humanoid robot capable of searching for known criminals is to become the first non-human member of the Dubai Police. The robotic offer will help identify wanted criminals and collect evidence within the city.

Unlike human police officers in Dubai - and also unlike the Robocop character from director Paul Verhoeven’s classic 1987 film - this robot will not carry a weapon. Its primary duties will be to assist the police with surveillance in busy areas, as well as to communicate with the public.

In May, the Dubai police force announced that they were preparing to deploy their first robot police officer.

“These kind of robots can work 24/7. They won’t ask you for leave, sick leave or maternity. It can work around the clock,” said Brigadier Khalid Nasser Al Razooqi, director-general of the Dubai Police’s Smart Services Department.

The robot wears the olive green uniform of the Dubai police, including a hat. It is approximately humanoid with a heavy wheeled base and can shake hands and perform a military salute. A touchscreen computer on its chest allows members of the public to report a crime or communicate with it.

According to Raqoozi, most people are not nervous about talking to the robot and some even prefer interacting with it more than with human officers.

“We now see the new generations who are using smart devices – they love to use these kind of tools,” he said. “A lot of them have seen the Robocop movie and they said: you guys, you have done it.”

Conference attendees shake hands with robot

Image credit: Reuters

Cameras and facial recognition software allow it to compare faces in the real world with those in a police database of wanted people and flag up any matches to police headquarters. It can also read vehicle number plates and provide a video feed to help human police officers monitor risks such as suspicious unattended items.

It was built at an undisclosed cost by PAL Robotics, a Spanish company which specialises in humanoid robotics.

Like many other public organisations in the UAE, the Dubai Police force is highly forward-facing and keen to embrace emerging technologies. The force was the first to use DNA testing, electronic finger printing and GPS to locate stolen vehicles. It plans to create a “smart” police station which does not require any human workers.

If this robot police officer proves useful, the Dubai Police will aim to have autonomous robots comprising 25 per cent of its patrolling force by 2030.

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