The newest recruits of Dubai's police force: Robocars with facial recognition tech


​Mini autonomous police cars paired with companion drones and facial recognition technology will begin patrolling the streets of Dubai by the end of the year to help the city identify and track down criminal suspects.

This week's announcement by city officials comes as Dubai races to reshape the future of its law enforcement.

But don't expect a high-speed chase from the little cars.

In demonstrations, the robot never appears to move beyond a strolling pace. But the four-wheeled security vehicle comes with a built-in aerial drone that can surveil areas and people that the robot can't reach.

Named the O-R3, the patrol car can navigate on its own using machine-learning algorithms.

Police can control the robot remotely from behind a computer dashboard. The vehicle also comes equipped with thermal imaging, and license plate readers.

The manufacturer, Singapore-based OTSAW Digital, claims the car and drone duo as the first of its kind.

The Dubai police force said the robots aren't intended to replace human officers.

The Dubai police force said the robots aren't intended to replace human officers.

The Dubai police force and OTSAW said the robots aren't intended to replace human officers but to better manage resources and manpower. OTSAW said the vehicles can recharge themselves and operate around the clock.

"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," Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, the head of the Dubai police, said in a statement.

 The electronic officer is the first of many to come. Within the next few years, the city will introduce a nearly 2.5m model, capable of speeds of almost 80kmh, which can also be controlled by a human officer from inside its frame, and can can heavy equipment.

Last month, Dubai recruited the world's first police bot, tasked not with dispensing weaponised justice but with the more modest assignment of monitoring tourist attractions. 

By 2030, Dubai plans for robots to make up 25 per cent of its police force.

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