By Chelsea Gohd

Dubai Is Creating an Autonomous Robo-Car Police Force

Image credit: Otsaw Robotics

Are you a fan of Robocop? We have good news! Terrified of the prospect that artificially intelligent robots could lead to our accidental demise? Then this might not be the best news for you, because Dubai’s police force is getting some new recruits, and they don’t eat donuts.

Manufactured by Otsaw Digital, a Singapore-based company, the O-R3 looks, at first glance, like a tiny car. But this robot is much more. These robo-vehicles will soon be patrolling the streets of Dubai, using facial-recognition technology to spot and track perpetrators.

The O-R3. Image Credit: Otsaw Digital

Despite being little cars, the new robo-police will move about as fast as their human counterparts. But for those moments that require a bit of extra speed and height, or to just add to its surveillance abilities, there is a drone atop each O-R3 model that can be launched into action at a moment’s notice.

While the O-R3 does operate using machine-learning algorithms, and can do so completely on its own, it won’t be without human supervision and control. There will be human police on the other end, controlling the vehicle using computers. The trend of humans working together with robots will continue out into the field as the O-R3 is meant to aid and supplement current police efforts, not replace them.

The O-R3 is not a military vehicle—it’s meant for surveillance. And, while the issue of privacy in the oncoming age of automation is a serious issue, this Robocop-car doesn’t pose a physical threat. Indeed, they could one day serve as impartial law enforcement, free of bias and rash decision-making.The head of the Dubai police force, Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, hopes that the robot cop cars will be a positive influence, saying “We seek to augment operations with the help of technology such as robots…Essentially, we aim for streets to be safe and peaceful without heavy police patrol.”

But in the future of this type of technology, a lack of human understanding and intuition could also be dangerous. It also seems like technology is changing much faster than the laws and legislation surrounding it. California has already tangled with the laws surrounding drones, and books like The Circle make a techno-surveillance state look like an inevitability. Hopefully these robo-cars end up more like the cute robot tanks from Ghost in the Shell and less like ED-209.


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