China debuts Dalek-style robocop
Tue 26 Apr 2016
China’s National Defense University has unveiled Anbot, a robotic crime fighter designed to protect against violence and unrest on the country’s streets.
Unveiled last week at the 12th Chongqing Hi-Tech Fair, the intelligent police bot measures 1.49m tall and weighs 78kg. It can travel autonomously at a top speed of 18km/h, on flat surfaces.
The state-backed publication the People’s Daily reported that the patrolling robot features built-in sensors which ‘mimic the human brain, eyes and ears.’ The article explained that when the Anbot detects a potential security threat, its human controller can remotely activate its ‘electrically-charged riot control tool,’ presumably a type of laser or taser device.
‘AnBot represents a series of breakthroughs in key technologies including low-cost autonomous navigation and intelligent video analysis, which will play an important role in enhancing the country’s anti-terrorism and anti-riot measures,’ the update added.
People can also press an alert button on the robot in the event of an emergency. In one demonstration, the robot showed its ability to grab hold of a mannequin leg.
According to the People’s Daily report, AnBot is capable of eight hours of continuous work, but the article did not offer any further details about how long it takes to recharge, or what happens when a terrorist escapes down a flight of stairs.
Security and emergency applications are of growing interest for robotics teams around the globe, with some results more successful than others. The United Arab Emirates announced last year that it was looking to introduce a ‘robocop’ scheme by 2017. The robots will first roll out in public places such as shopping centres and transport hubs, and will feature an interactive screen and a microphone connected to Dubai Police call centres.
In 2014 another potential robotic police officer received global attention, not least because its ambit of using robotics to help disabled officers return to the beat is so close to the central theme in Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 sci-fi blockbuster Robocop, in which a crippled law enforcement officer is put into a massively powerful cybernetic suit and returns to work with a vengeance.
Telebot, however, is a telepresence robot designed to be operated from rather further away. Jeremy Robins, a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserves, donated $20,000 to Florida International University’s Discovery Lab to investigate the possibilities of cybernetic police presence, and the result, as the video below demonstrates, is certainly visually impressive.
Robins explained: “We want to use telebots to give disabled military and police veterans an opportunity to serve in law enforcement… With telebots, a disabled police officer will be capable of performing many, if not most, of the functions of a normal patrol office – interacting with the community, patrolling, responding to 911 calls, issuing citations. Telerobotics has already begun to make its way into the worlds of medicine, business and private security. Extending it into law enforcement is simply the natural progression of things.”