Ford Patents Driverless Police Car That Ambushes Lawbreakers Using AI

Ford has developed a patent for a police car that issues tickets without even pulling you over. The same car could also use artificial intelligence to find good hiding spots to catch traffic violators (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source) and identify drivers by scanning license plates, tapping into surveillance cameras and wirelessly accessing government records. The Washington Post reports: The details may sound far-fetched, as if they belong in the science-fiction action flick “Demolition Man” or a new dystopian novel inspired by Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” but these scenarios are grounded in a potential reality. They come from a patent developed by Ford and being reviewed by the U.S. government to create autonomous police cars. Ford’s patent application was published this month. Although experts claim autonomous vehicles will make driving safer and more rule-bound, Ford argues in its application that in the future, traffic violations will never disappear entirely. “While autonomous vehicles can and will be programmed to obey traffic laws, a human driver can override that programming to control and operate the vehicle at any time,” the patent’s application says. “When a vehicle is under the control of a human driver there is a possibility of violation of traffic laws. Thus, there will still be a need to police traffic.”

The patent application says that autonomous police vehicles don’t necessarily replace the need for human police officers for catching traffic scofflaws. Some “routine tasks,” such as issuing tickets for failure to stop at a stop sign, can be automated, the patent says, but other tasks that can’t be automated will be left to people. The application, which was filed in July 2016 and includes elaborate diagrams depicting the autonomous police car interacting with its environment, says officers could be inside the vehicle at all times and reclaim control of the car when necessary. But the application also shows how an autonomous police vehicle could be able to carry out many tasks we associate with human officers.

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