SRI testing a robotic cop that can be used for traffic stops

A photo from this SRI International video about a robotic police device that speaks with drivers who have been pulled over.

BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer

An engineer at SRI International in Menlo Park has come up with a prototype of a robotic cop who emerges from a police car to write tickets to motorists.

Here’s a video.

Reuben Brewer wants to reduce injuries during traffic stops, be it a driver being shot by a police officer, or an officer getting hit by a car or shot at by a motorist.

“Over the last couple of years there have been many news reports of people being killed during traffic stops, and it seems to be preventable,” Brewer said. “There’s no reason why it (a traffic stop) has to be in person. It seems like low-hanging fruit to prevent these incidents by separating people.”

Brewer started thinking about the robot in December 2017, and shortly thereafter, got funding for the project from SRI, where he works.

Brewer calls his invention the GoBetween and it works like this:

• A police officer in a squad car spots a driver violating the law. The officer turns on his overhead lights and siren and pulls the car over.

• When the two cars stop, an arm carrying the robot is extended from the police car to the window of the motorist’s car.

A robotic police officer is extended on a pole from the police car, right, to the car that is being pulled over in this demonstration. The robot includes a video screen and ticket printer. SRI International photo.

• Once the robot is deployed, a spike strip will go out in front of the car’s tires in order to diminish the likelihood of the driver speeding away from the robot.

• The robot will have a screen that will show the officer seated in the police car. The officer can talk with the motorist via video.

• Drivers will be able to hold up their license and registration to the camera on the robot.

• When the officer issues the ticket, it will come out of the robot like a receipt in a grocery checkout line.

• Once the motorist takes the ticket, the spike strip is retracted.

Reaction from police

Brewer has shown his prototype to some police officers in the area, and they’ve asked for a few enhancements.

For instance, they’d like it if the robot could detect if the driver had been drinking or smoking marijuana. They’d also like it if the camera could look into the entire car. And they’d like the ability for the officer to leave the car if necessary while the robot is deployed.

Brewer said he was told by officers that they’d like to be able to get out of the car and were worried the robot, which would be extended from the driver’s side of the police car, might pin them in.

Alcohol odor detector

Brewer said he’s planing to include a device that can smell the odor of alcohol and he’s working on a camera that will look at the entire car. He also plans to have the robot go to either the driver’s side window or the front passenger side window.

Brewer is working on a second version of the robot, and is trying to partner with police agencies to test the program. However, he does not have an agency nailed down yet. Brewer has not figured out how much the robots will cost departments, but he said the robots will be cheaper to buy than a new police car.

 

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