Real Robocops of Dubai: UAE to introduce police robots ‘within two years’

Reuters / Jumana El Heloueh
Police in the wealthy United Arab Emirates plan to introduce interactive patrolling bots by 2017, and says “fully intelligent robots” could be on the force by the end of the decade.

We are aiming to provide these kinds of services as the population is expanding. This way we can provide better services without hiring more people,” Colonel Khalid Nasser Alrazooqi, who heads the city’s ‘smart’ unit, said during a keynote speech at the Gulf Information Security Expo and Conference, Dubai’s Khaleej Times report.

Admittedly, the first generation of robocops, which will be dispatched to crowded, but generally, safe, public spaces such as malls, sound like more sophisticated versions of public info terminals than crime-stopping heroes.

The robots will interact directly with people and tourists. They will include an interactive screen and microphone connected to the Dubai Police call centers. People will be able to ask questions and make complaints, but they will also have fun interacting with the robots,” said the official.

But Alrazooqi has much more ambitious plans for the AI-equipped models, which he believes will appear in “four to five years.”

READ MORE: Dubai cops may try Google Glass to catch speeders

These will be fully intelligent robots that can interact with people, with no human intervention at all. This is still under research and development, but we are planning on it,” he said.

With a small population, vast funds, and a desire to project itself as a world leader in technology, Dubai, which says that it will soon have the most advanced police force in the world, in which officers began using Google Glass last year, is a perfect platform for the first regular robo-blue force.

Whether workable technology will catch up with Dubai’s intentions within the stated timeframes, is less clear. Drones and bomb-disabling bots are already in use by police forces around the world. As for the more humanoid and independent creations, multiple companies are working on a technology that is at a prototype stage.

READ MORE: 5-foot-tall ‘Robocops’ start patrolling Silicon Valley

California startup Knightscope has already deployed what it says is an intelligent bot inside several private corporate properties. The droid, which is more reminiscent of R2-D2 or a Dalek than a metal policeman, is capable of scanning license plates and faces, as well as spotting suspicious behaviour. For the moment, it cannot intervene with gunfire, but lets out a piercing alarm, and warns the authorities.

The company says it is now looking for contracts with the state security agency, and Dubai could be an early client.