It is a terrifying vision of the future – a robot police officer with dark eyes and no discernible mouth that can identify criminals and collect evidence.
The robocop, complete with police hat to give it that eerie uncanny valley feel, was shown off outside the world’s tallest tower, Burj Khalifa, in Dubai, last June.
But since then what has it done? And is Dubai’s love affair with robotics any more than just PR for a country desperate to be at the cutting edge of technology?
PAL Robotics, the company behind the robot, threw some light on its duties, which seemed more tourist guide than police officer.
“This robot joined the Dubai police to help citizens in an innovative and engaging way, and it is located by now in tourist attractions and shopping malls,” the company told the BBC.
“The robot can provide useful information in multiple languages thanks to its software, and can also guide people to a requested point of interest.
“Besides, it is a tool for citizens to contact the Dubai Police call centres by using the microphones integrated into the robot, and people can use other police-related services through it, such as paying traffic fines.”
The robot is part of a wider move to make the region’s police service “smarter”, which will include many more computer-controlled, unstaffed police stations. The Dubai government wants robot police to make up 25% of the force by 2030.
As a member of the Dubai police told the BBC when it was launched: “These kind of robots can work 24/7. They won’t ask you for leave, sick leave or maternity leave. It can work around the clock.”
Source: BBC NEWS