Are Real Life “Robo Cops” the Future of Law Enforcement?
CHARLOTTE, NC – A California engineer is trying to take the human interaction out of potentially dangerous traffic stops, which can be stressful situations for both the person being pulled over and the officer.
Tony Underwood, a veteran SBI agent who is now with the Union County Sheriff’s Office knows these risks.
“That officer has to always be mindful of their hands.where their hands are. Make eye contact. And never let their guard down,” said Underwood describing a typical traffic stop.
On average, 4,500 officers nationwide are assaulted during traffic stops each year. Which is why a California robotics engineer is trying to take the human element out of the exchange.
“If you can have a robot assume that risk. Then there is really no chance for the human to get hurt or killed,” said Reuben Brewer with Go Between Robotics.
He and his team have developed a prototype that attaches to a police officers car and can carry out the traffic stop duties. The robot extends from the patrol car and essentially uses video calling to communicate.
“There is an electronic signature pad where you can sign the ticket,” explained Brewer, “there is a bar code scanner to scan the back of your license to input all that information quickly.”
“You’re talking almost science fiction when you see something like that,” said Underwood.
He isn’t yet convinced about the technology. He says the robot comes with limitations that are essential to law enforcement carrying out their duties.
Underwood says you lose some of your senses, as well as the ability to look around the car and have a personal interaction.
“I think if you take that communication piece out of it, that one on one interaction.. I think we’re really doing more harm than good,” said Underwood.
Brewer says the robot isn’t meant to be the solution for every traffic stop. He says they’re still in the research and development phase and it will be several years before the robots could go to market.