Driverless police cars could soon form part of the future of law enforcement.
Ford, which manufactures vehicles for forces across the world, has submitted a patent application in the USA for a police car that doesn’t need a human operator.
The autonomous vehicle would use artificial intelligence (AI) to place itself in the best positions – and hiding places – to catch traffic law offenders, including people who speed and those who run red lights.
Its computer would search out a tree or a bush to park behind “so as to be inconspicuous”, Ford says. Then, when a remote device – such as a surveillance camera – spots a driver breaking the law, the car would be tipped off and pursue them.
Drawings suggest that the car would record the culprit’s number plate using camera equipment before remotely issuing a penalty.
Ford says this would mean “human police officers can perform tasks that cannot be automated”.
Other tech would include the ability to track offenders using co-ordinates from satellites and wireless communication systems.
The patent, filed this month, suggests that the car’s AI would be intelligent enough to decide whether to issue a warning or a fine. It would also send notices to the computer of the offending vehicle that could be displayed on the dashboard. Copies would be sent to the police database.
It could also call up information from a target vehicle’s computer, including details of the owner’s licence, and cross-check this against offender databases before deciding to give chase under appropriate circumstances.
Ford’s application suggests that the autonomous car is intended to be used from the early 2020s, when driverless and other vehicles are expected to share the roads.