If the fourth season of Black Mirror didn’t thoroughly freak you out, buckle up!
Ford has filed for a patent on an autonomous police car. While patent filings don’t always come to fruition, the mere fact that this idea is in development is mildly unnerving.
The patent, first spotted by Motor1, describes an autonomous police vehicle that would be able to detect infractions performed by another vehicle, either on its own or in conjunction with surveillance cameras and/or road-side sensors.
The AI-powered police car could then remotely issue citations or pursue the vehicle. Or (and this is where it gets really creepy), “the method may further involve the processor remotely executing one or more actions with respect to the first vehicle,” according to the patent.
In other words, the autonomous police car could wirelessly connect to the original car to communicate with the passenger, verify identity, and issue a citation.
In fact, Ford’s patent filing describes a machine learning algorithm that would be able to determine whether or not a vehicle breaking the law warrants a warning as opposed to a citation, and relay that decision to the driver.
The patent also describes a method by which police offers within the autonomous police car could manually take over control of the vehicle or use its wireless connection to various databases to gain more information on those breaking the law.
Again, a patent does not a forthcoming product make. We’re many years from potentially being pulled over by a robot car. That said, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that patrol police fall victim to the age of automation.