A patent from Ford revealed ideas for autonomous police cars which are capable of finding law-breakers, doling out tickets, and even waiting in hiding spots.
The patent, filed in 2016 and spotted by Motor1 last week, details all the ways in which an autonomous police car could help catch law-breaking drivers. The language specifically proposes a future in which autonomous vehicles are more common, and what role police vehicles would play:
While autonomous vehicles can and will be programmed to obey traffic laws, a human driver can override that programming to control and operate the vehicle at any time. When a vehicle is under the control of a human driver there is a possibility of violation of traffic laws. Thus, there will still be a need to police traffic.
The patent gives multiple examples of how police traffic can catch human drivers. For example, it proposes a sophisticated speed detection system, through which it can catch the offending cars and deliver a warning or a citation — it doesn’t say how it’ll determine which
The car’s AI would even learn the most advantageous spots in which to hide to catch speeding drivers — just like the real cops do. Only autonomous cars don’t need to break for coffee and paninis.
According to the patent, the Robocop cars would wirelessly link with the offending vehicle, and do anything from deliver a warning to check the driver’s license or confirm the car’s speed. The police vehicle would also link to cameras, lights, and other sensors in the area to track and identify the car in question.
It’s far from the first time we’ve seen AI and police team up — a placid-looking robot joined the Dubai police force last year.
It’s not likely this kind of autonomous car will see the light of day for years. Besides the usual hurdles in creating an autonomous car, you’d have to program this one to understand and be capable of enforcing any number of local traffic ordinances. Still, I’m not too worried about Robocar: The patent doesn’t specify the cars can do anything the human police aren’t capable of doing (like hiding to catch speeders, taking pictures, or accessing other security systems remotely), so it doesn’t paint too bleak of a picture … yet.