robocop

Many of us have seen the 1987 sci-fi classic ‘RoboCop’ which envisions a cyborg policeman with extra-ordinary powers.  Well, that may not be fiction for long. Researchers at at Florida International University are currently working on creating a robotic cop which could be controlled remotely.

The project is being done in collaboration with a member of U.S. Navy Reserves and aims to build a robot which could then be remotely controlled by disabled police officers. With robots being increasingly used to do common, human tasks, it was only a matter of time before they were commissioned to help the law enforcement agencies.

So what exactly would these robotic cops do? The researchers believe that they will be able to accomplish a whole host of tasks, from handing out parking tickets to responding to 911 calls. Interestingly, researchers currently face the riddle of what exactly these robo-cops should look like.

According to Lieutenant Commander Jeremy Robins from U.S. Navy Reserves, “The big design hurdle we face is, strangely enough, the exact same hurdle police officers face with the public every day. The telebot has to look intimidating and authoritative enough so that people obey its commands — because of course it’s not the telebot telling you what to do, it’s the disabled police officer controlling the telebot who’s telling you what to do.”

And yet “it has to be approachable enough so that a lost 3-year-old feels comfortable coming up to the telebot and asking for help finding her mother. That’s a challenging design problem, and one which I’m sure will take many iterations before we get it perfectly right.”

However, researchers still have to work out the possible social barriers that such robots may face when they actually roll out to the public.

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