Ford, one of the largest manufacturers of police fleet vehicles, is taking their work with law enforcement one step further. The car company made headlines in January as their patent application for “Autonomous Police Vehicle” was published.

According to the application, the vehicle is not meant to replace police officers, it is designed to assist in “routine police tasks,” such as issuing tickets for minor traffic infractions like “speeding or failure to stop at a stop sign.” These items “can be automated so that human police officers can perform tasks that cannot be automated.” The autonomous vehicle can perform automated tasks such as enforcing traffic laws, identifying the driver, initiating contact with the driver, authenticating the driver’s credentials and determining whether or not to issue a ticket or just a warning. The vehicle will then transmit the action back to the appropriate government agency.

The car will be programmed with machine learning tools that will allow it to locate ideal hiding spots to catch traffic violators. The car will be equipped with sensors that would be able to detect the speed of a nearby vehicle as well as monitor traffic. The vehicle would also have the ability to wirelessly communicate with a remotely located computing center.

The vehicle may receive information about an infraction from a remote device such as a surveillance camera or a roadside sensor. It will have the ability to follow the violating vehicle, make contact with the driver, and use its algorithm to determine the best course of action to take. 

The application also noted that the autonomous vehicle will be equipped to carry one or more passengers. The vehicle can be placed in manual mode where a police officer can override the car’s computer. It will also allow the police officer to intervene in cases where more detailed actions need to be taken such as a DUI.  

This patent application is likely to generate quite a buzz as the car’s technology elicits memories of those seen in movies like Robocop or The Fifth Element. Although this patent application has published it does not necessarily mean autonomous police cars will be seen on the streets anytime soon. Still probably wise to obey all traffic laws though.

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