Technology has a way of moving forward ever closer to the future we imagine in the movies. The ultimate future of law enforcement, robotic cops, is inching closer to being reality every day. In some ways, it already is.
The fields of war and the borders of the United States are constantly being patrolled by robotic drones with human controllers. In Afghanistan and Iraq, these drones have actually carried weaponry and delivered a payload directly to the enemy with deadly results. If drones that carry a payload are already a reality, could it be possible non-lethal weaponry will be unleashed on those illegally crossing into our country? It’s already technically feasible, but politically and financially it may still be years away from implementation.
Companies in Japan have been pushing the boundaries of robotics for decades. The free walking robot from Honda (ASIMO robot) in 1986 is one notable instance. Also worth noting is that this robot has been through a lot of evolutionary changes in the last couple decades. Will the tinkering and re-wiring continue? What will be the end product?
The ASIMO robot looks like a human being in a space suit and has fully articulated motion in its limbs, can walk and dance and perform a number of rudimentary tasks. The technology is at the heart of Honda’s movement to make robots more interactive and helpful with human lives. Part of this technology is aimed at performing human like functions in outer space without risking the life of a human.
Another company in Japan has developed Robo-Guard, a prototype robot that can move from floor to floor in an office building, using the elevator and do security checks and even fight fires. At the moment, this curious contraption has a human controller, so it isn’t doing any of these actions autonomously yet. Another robot, the T-34, has been developed that can throw a net over a perpetrator.
That is awesome. I can't wait to see one at Wal-Mart. I'll use it in my back yard to catch whoever's been taking apples off our tree at night.
Ok, let's get serious for a moment.
In robotics today robots aren't simply being designed for protection or security services. Robots are also being made with all the gadgets to catalog DNA, analyze fingerprints, and process real life hazards like bioweapons or explosives. These are just a few of the developments being pursued by companies around the world.
You see facial recognition programs already in security systems. Quick wireless access to criminal databases is already being used in police cars around the world through laptops. Dashboard cameras record the activity of all that goes on in front of the officer’s vehicle. These are all technology built into the RoboCop of the movies that is in use today.
We have all the technology available in today’s society to have a prototype real-life RoboCop. Strictly interpreted, RoboCop was part-human, part-machine. We aren’t really looking at that kind of technology today, but we do enhance human abilities with technology and protective gear.
A real life cop wearing bullet proof armor and carrying wearable computers to assist him in crime fighting is a real possibility today. The automated cop of the future is still a ways off, but a remote-controlled one is really just around the corner. In some ways, they’re already here in a limited capacity, but saving human lives every day. However, there is no ASIMO wielding rubber bullets and a stun gun yet. Or maybe there is and he just has not been revealed to the public.