- The Huntington Park, CA Police Department has "sworn in" an autonomous scanning robot with 360-degree HD video capability to monitor a public park, according to KTLA News, The Associated Press and others.
- The "HP RoboCop" is meant to "act as an extra set of eyes and monitor areas such as parks, city buildings and corridors where police might not have the time to consistently patrol," according to a city release quoted by KTLA. The city did not respond to Smart Cities Dive's requests for comment.
- The device was tested last month at a 5K event and even has its own Twitter account.
Huntington Park's "RoboCop," which will act only as a monitor, joins a list of potential robots that could be used for law enforcement nationally. The robot also puts a friendly spin on police technology; a video posted to its Twitter account shows it slowly moving around a park and saying, "Good day to you."
It remains to be seen how effective it can be and whether residents will take it seriously. Autonomous robots can attract a lot of early attention, but with no actual enforcement powers, "RoboCop" could become a novelty — or worse.
A security guard robot in Washington, DC made headlines in 2017 after it rolled into a fountain, and other public robots have been messed with by the public, like a hitchhiking robot that was destroyed outside of Philadelphia in 2015.
NBC News reported this spring of a robot built by a California man meant to handle traffic stops. The GoBetween robot would extend from a police car to the motorist’s window to communicate without either leaving their vehicle, an attempt to make traffic stops safer.
Other companies have marketed autonomous security guards, which could be outfitted with facial recognition software, badge scanners and other sensors to scan buildings for unauthorized visitors. Broad networks of cameras and internet of things (IoT) sensors can also be used by law enforcement to monitor crowds.