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Cop cars to be replaced with drones by 2025

Published time: November 23, 2012 19:34
Edited time: November 23, 2012 23:34
Credit: Honda R&D Americas, Advanced Design Studio, California

Credit: Honda R&D Americas, Advanced Design Studio, California

Law enforcement agencies across the US are lining up to be among the first to use drones to serve and protect, but unmanned vehicles are likely to replace the traditional cop cruiser in just a few short years.

In places like California, Texas and Washington State, police officers in recent weeks have intensified their demands for surveillance drones, a necessary addition they say to their arsenal of tools to help thwart crime. The Federal Aviation Administration has yet to finalize plans to put drones in US airspace, but by the end of the decade as many as 30,000 UAVs are expected to be soaring through the sky.

By 2025, those drones are predicted to take the place of the police patrol car as unmanned vehicles operated by cops are being considered a likely inclusion on our roads of tomorrow.

Leading up to this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show, carmakers were asked to put together prototypes showing what they envision highway patrol vehicles to look like in the year 2025. The entries, from big manufacturers like BWM and Honda, are largely based on the still primitive drone technology that is used in military and surveillance missions overseas.

The car show’s organizers asked designers to develop a vehicle that “should empower highway patrol officers to meet new demands and effectively both ‘protect and serve’ the public while considering not just enforcement needs but emission concerns, population growth and transportation infrastructure.”

According to the New York Times, drone devices are far and away the popular choice.

“By coincidence or destiny, designers at several companies came up with concepts for robotic, autonomously driven vehicles on ground, water and air. These future police cruisers — usually presented as story boards rather than actual vehicles — recall today’s Predator and Global Hawk drones, stars of the anti-insurgency efforts. They may give new meaning to those signs that read ‘Speed limit enforced by aircraft,’” writes the Times’ Phil Patton.

In the prototype unveiled by BMW, a larger “ePatrol” vehicle is equipped with up to three individual drones that can be deployed to follow suspected criminals in high-speed chases across busy highways. Once one of the smaller can catch up with a targeted car, those individual drones would then be able to send an impulse to startle the driver. One of those smaller drones would be able to fly on its own, and the other two unmanned vehicles could roll on two wheels through busy roads.

At Honda, designers there envision a similar concept: a large all-electric patrol car that could dispatch at the drop of a hat unmanned motorcycles to catch up with criminals and maintain coverage at high speeds for long distances.

In addition to the BMW E-Patrol (Human-Drone Pursuit Vehicle) and Honda’s CHP Drone Squad, Subaru also sent into the car show designs for the SHARC, or Subaru Highway Automated Response Concept. PSFK online describes it as “an autonomous, zero-emission patrol vehicle” meant to “augment reduced highway patrol budgets by providing remote 3D video to officers who can control the vehicle via goggles and voice command.”

The winner of this year’s design challenge will be announced November 29 in Los Angeles.

Comments (13)


robertstihl 05.05.2014 15:56

Question regarding: " Once one of the smaller can catch up with a targeted car, those individual drones would then be able to send an impulse to startle the driver " If such technology can be developed then why "startle d driver", why not disabled engine, or somehow make the pursued car come to a stop through remote electronic means? If a driver is "startled" in any way, he can cause accidents and kill, injure others. In this age of technology we surely have ways to achieve desired results without risk to harm. Btw, I have no issue beating homicidal maniacs and the like, but without involving innocents.


Ksaint3244 26.03.2014 15:35

Watch out Robocop will not give you a ticket but buckshot to the face..


mergon 06.03.2014 09:24

What is it going to do when it gets there ? is this the usual American thing ,like buy this now and the robots will follow ?,apart from being a UAV road block its c.r.a.p !

America is a citizens nightmare ,one mistake by a drone player and you will have 20 para military police type personal smash their way into your home shoot your dog or dogs kill some 80 year old man in his bed ,then realise they made a mistake and try to cover up their crimes by planting evidence to discredit you and your innocent family !

View all comments (13)
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