Months after Dubai unveiled the first flying taxis in the world, Dubai Police on Tuesday unveiled another believed world’s first — autonomous, self-driving miniature police cars that are expected to hit the streets by year-end.
The robotic vehicles will be equipped with biometric software to scan for wanted criminals and undesirables who are suspected or are breaking laws, police said.
About the size of a child’s electric toy car, the driverless vehicles will patrol different areas of the city to boost security and hunt for unusual activity, all the while scanning crowds for potential persons of interest to police and known criminals.
The new security system is so advanced that the mini-vehicle even comes with its own drone which can be launched via a rear sleeve — both are monitored and linked to Dubai Police command room.
Dubai Police signed a new deal with Singapore-based OTSAW Digital to deploy the new autonomous outdoor security robots — called O-R3 by the firm — as part of the Smart Dubai initiative, making Dubai the first city in the world to have O-R3 in operation, said police.
The memorandum was signed by Major-General Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, Commander-in-Chief of Dubai Police, and Ling Bing, CEO of OTSAW Digital, at Dubai Police headquarters.
“Dubai Police are keen to get the latest technology to fight crime. We always search for the best technology to serve our police work for a safer and smarter city. We seek to augment operations with the help of technology such as robots. We aim for streets to be safe and peaceful even without heavy police patrol,” Maj-Gen Al Merri said.
“We always look to achieve Dubai’s vision of becoming a Smart City. We expect it will be ready during the next Gitex fair,” he said.
On its company website, OTSAW hails its new driverless vehicle as groundbreaking for the future of police surveillance for large cities such as Dubai.
The company said its world’s first autonomous security robot features an antenna and ground surveillance system.
OTSAW also noted that the O-R3 performs 360-degree surveillance and deters potential crime with its formidable presence on site. With self-charging capability, patrol and protection is provided 24/7, all year round.
“Ultimately, robots exist to improve the quality of human lives, where men take on high-value jobs while robots perform the low-skilled ones,” Bing said.
The company said that it expects the O-R3 to begin policing Dubai by the end of 2017.
Brigadier Khalid Nasser Al Razooqi, director of the Smart Services Department in Dubai Police, said the new car has cameras and will be linked to the command room.
“It can recognise people in any area and identify suspicious objects and can track suspects. It has a drone and the user [police officer] needs to access the car through fingerprint. It will be deployed at tourist destinations in Dubai,” Brigadier Al Razooqi said.
Police will send a team headed by Lieutenant Salim Saqr Al Merri to the company to participate and supervise the final stages of building the car.
The latest news from Dubai Police comes on the heels of word earlier this year at the World Government Summit that Dubai is also set to become the world’s first city to use flying taxis.
In April, Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) officials said they will begin a trial run of ‘flying taxis’ in 2020.
The RTA said at the time that it will carry out the test flight of Vertical Take-off and Landing Vehicles (VToL) in partnership with Uber.
According to Uber, the first demonstration network is expected to be ready for Expo 2020.