Would you trust a robot cop over an actual cop? That is the dilemma Chinese citizens are facing with the debut of the country’s first “intelligent security robot.” The machine is a spinning image of one of Dr. Who’s notorious Daleks, and delivers an electric shock to keep rioters in place. It’s also equipped with an SOS button to help people call for the police.
Developed by a Chinese university, makers of the robot claim the AnBot is a stepping stone in affordable robots and surveillance. They also believe the robots could play a major role in China’s efforts to combat terrorism and public dissent.
In other words, if China is not letting machines establish order and justice, they are at least letting them play a pivotal role in the process.
Robotic experts at the Beijing’s National University of Defense Technology debuted their contraption at the Chongqing Hi-Tech Fair, where they illustrated its capabilities.
Standing 4.9 ft-tall and clocking in at 172 lbs, the robot can cruise at speeds of 11 mph for about eight hours on one charge. But the machine isn’t completely autonomous. Although it is controlled remotely, it is equipped with various sensors, which enable it to recognize obstacles, people and sounds.
Xiao Xiangjiang, a researcher from the National University of Defense Technology, told New China TV:
“AnBot has a high degree of autonomy. It could patrol, avoid obstacles, identify and charge all on its own.
“He is equipped with non-lethal weapons to prevent and control violence by remote control. Moreover, he could be a service provider, which makes him more practical.”
This isn’t the first time robots have been implemented to help established public order. In the United States, for example, researchers at the University of Florida are developing a police robot, which could perform daily law enforcement tasks.
According to the Florida robotics team, Telebot will be able to perform basic police duties, such as handing out parking tickets. While a prototype of the police robot has a $20,000 price tag attached to it, the device is significantly cheaper than other automaton.
Nevertheless, China still produces more robots than any other country in the world. Their is a large demand for them in the business and service industry.
Earlier this month, a string of small restaurants opened in the country that used robots as waiting staff. Servers shouldn’t sweat about losing their jobs to robots just yet, however. Two of the restaurants were closed and one removed after the robot servers were unable to perform several duties latched to waiting tables.
Maintaining the law has even more responsibilities buckled to it, and like all burgeoning technologies, robot cops are a double edge sword. For example, when investigating a bomb, officials already deploy the cameras on robots to assess the situation.
On the other hand, administrators may be tempted to substitute a human police force with an incompetent robotic police force in areas with low-crime rates. Consequently, robots have the potential to lower rather than maintain law enforcement standards.
You can check the robot in action in the video below: