Dubai Police To Add Self-Driving, Drone-Deploying Robotic Patrol Cars

The ominously-named O-R3 will use biometric scanners to identify wanted suspects.

Dubai Police

Living in Dubai these days must feel a bit like Detroit circa 2043, minus the shadowy megacorporation turning murdered cops into baddie-slaying cyborgs. Fresh off the oil kingdom's plans to create an autonomous drone taxi service—and an attempt at their very own RoboCop—the Dubai Police Force has announced the creation of a fleet of self-driving, drone-deploying miniature police cruisers that can scan their surroundings for wanted criminals, and more ominously, "persons of interest."

If that sounds a little dystopian for your taste, well, the rest of the details won't do much to change that. Created by Singapore robotics firm OTSAW, the O-R3 units will send a live video feed via a 360-degree camera to a central monitoring station so Dubai Police can see what's going on at any time. Thanks to biometric software and scanners, the robot will also be able to "identify suspicious objects and track suspects," according to Brigadier Khalid Nasser Al Razooqi, the director of the police force's Smart Services program.

But should one of those suspects attempt a quick getaway, or just hop a fence as seen in the demonstration video below, the O-R3 is also capable of launching a camera-carrying drone at the touch of a button to continue the pursuit. The whole package is about the size of a Power Wheels toy, so it should be able to use paths and alleyways that are too small for the Dubai Police's fleet of supercars.

Al Razooqi also noted that the robotic patrols will be introduced mainly at tourist areas by the end of the year, so it remains to be seen whether this is a more a public relations stunt than an earnest attempt at a new form of policing. The much-hyped RoboCop introduced last month mainly serves as its own tourist attraction at the foot of the Burj Khalifa instead of heralding a new wave of robotic officers. Still, the introduction of the O-R3 shows that Dubai Police are plunging ahead with their ambitious goal to replace 25 percent of their patrol force with robots by 2030.