Robots Empowering Law And Order

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Using various sensors, motors and output channels, robots can feed on the information in real time and aid law enforcement officers in times of need.

Protectors of law dedicate their lives to keep our cities safe. However, it is not possible for them to reach every place in need, in time. In this regard, robots can bring great benefits. As these are becoming more interactive and intelligent, robots have become helping hands for police personnel.

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Countries across the globe have been reinforcing their police forces with robots, and deployments have shown great progress. Looking at some of these successful deployment stories, Indian police forces can also consider investing in robotic assistants for their benefit.

How robots can strengthen law enforcement

Robots can be put to use in different applications on the streets. With the amalgamation of various sensors, motors and output channels, these can feed on necessary information in real time and provide assistance as required.

Main sensory components of these machines are lidars, auto-sonic sensors, touch sensors, cameras with computer vision, microphones, input touchscreens and so on. Inputs picked up by the sensors are processed in a microcontroller (MCU) to create relative outputs.

Most robots today are being used for street-level assistance of citizens, like filing reports and complaints, performing security scans, generating tickets, assisting with directions and more. These also send real-time alerts and notifications to police control centres in case of incidents or emergencies, provide information regarding medical aid, gas stations, repair shops and so on.

Implementation of robots can bring many advantages, the foremost being safety and preparedness of the human police workforce. Many officers often get victimised in unsuspecting incidents. Robots, in these conditions, can alert police forces beforehand through their security scan capabilities, and help in preventing mishaps.

Robots can also deliver real-time traffic and parking information, helping in improving urban traffic conditions. Moreover, these are easily accessible to citizens for any kind of support, in turn, reducing wait times at police stations and load on officers.

There are many more benefits that robots can bring to administratives that can, in turn, reduce life risk and expenses, and improve overall citizen wellness.

Deployment stories

Robotics in Indian law enforcement is yet to see proper deployments. However, solution providers in the country are working towards developing machines that can benefit police departments in the future. For instance, Hyderabadbased H-bot Robotics has developed a policing robot that the company claims to be ready for deployment, and is tailored to Indian conditions.

H-bot Robotics’ robots can facilitate interactive support to citizens, conduct road surveillance, help in traffic management and detect explosives. These will be available commercially soon, for ₹ 500,000 to ₹ 2 million. Solutions like these can be quite cost-effective and beneficial for police administratives in India.

On the other hand, police departments in other countries, especially in Asia, have already made progress in utilising robots. For instance, since 2011, South Korea has been using robotic guards to invigilate their prisons. Started as a trial project at a prison in Pohang, adaptation of these automated prison guards has expanded across the region.

Robots patrolling a prison in South Korea
Robots patrolling a prison in South Korea

The self-patrolling robots can sense inmate behaviour patterns and surrounding conditions to trigger alarms and notify prison administration in case of problems. These also facilitate two-way communication.

However, the robots are not built to engage physically by themselves. Their implementation has substantially reduced the load on manual prison patrols and has slashed down in-prison incidents over the years.

Taiwan police recently deployed robots for citizen assistance purposes. Ayuda robot, built by Syscom Computer Engineering, can file and print formal police complaints for citizens, run citizen ID verification, provide road assistance and more. It can also be used for surveillance and security purposes powered by the various technologies lying underneath the design.

Ayuda robot
Ayuda robot

Max Yang, executive director, Syscom Computer Engineering, says, “The robot combines multiple sensors and utilises techniques like facial recognition for citizen identification, natural language processing-based speech for interaction and computer vision for surrounding situation monitoring. Inbuilt microphone facilitates two-way communication.”

Ayuda’s body is made of acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS). It is 1.6-metre tall and weighs 100 kilograms. Using a lithium battery, it can run for eight hours, following four hours of charge. Taiwan police will deploy more such robots in 2019.

Dubai Police Department grabbed eyeballs in 2017 when it launched robotic officers to reduce manual load in crowded areas. The 1.67-metre tall robots are tasked with real-time surveillance and citizen support near malls, stations, hospitals and the like. People can use the touchscreen on the machines to access road directions, pay fines, lodge complaints and more.

Dubai police is also using its facial recognition capabilities to identify individuals. A live video feed keeps the control centre updated regarding the areas that the robot covers. It is used to detect parking violations too and can pursue subjects up to a speed of 80kmph. The police department plans to have 25 per cent of their workforce as robots by 2030, without replacing or reducing human requirements in the force.

Proper maintenance of robots can ensure great advantages for India’s decision-makers in strengthening law and order in the country. As many modern technology firms are delving deep to create such solutions, it is a good time for the Indian police force to explore these options and leverage on these technologies.

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