Lord Help US - Ford Wants to Put Ticket-Serving Autonomous Police Cars on the Road
Say goodbye to sweet-talking your way out of a ticketby Kirby, on
The race to develop autonomous driving technology is taking shape in a number of potential applications. For Ford, it’s not enough to have an autonomous car-sharing service or a self-driving car for the masses. The Blue Oval is thinking out of the box with a vision to put the technology into a police car. It may not be on the level of Skynet just yet, but Ford’s idea of a self-driving police car could be the future of law enforcement on the road.
Before any of you start freaking out about seeing a self-driving Ford Mustang police cruiser in your rear-view mirrors, you must know that Ford’s idea is nowhere close to becoming a reality
Before any of you start freaking out about seeing a self-driving Ford Mustang police cruiser in your rear-view mirrors, you must know that Ford’s idea is nowhere close to becoming a reality. The patent application, which was filed in July 2016, is a pen-on-paper idea about the possibility of having autonomous police cars. According to the patent, the autonomous police vehicle will be able to hide, detect violations, give chase, and issue warnings and fines, among its numerous functions and capabilities.
Let’s role-play for a second. Suppose you’re in your autonomous vehicle and the car is going above the speed limit, Ford’s APV will be able to detect the infraction and take a number of potential actions. It could ping speed cameras of other APVs to get verification of the violation, or it could tap into surveillance cameras and monitor your car from there. If there’s enough reason to give chase, the APV will spring into action and communicate with your car to find out who’s driving the car. In the event that it’s you, your car could send a copy of your driver’s license to the APV, which, in turn, will repay that kindness by issuing you a warning or a fine. Mind you, all of this is happening without your car having to pull over on the side of the road.
Ford said that even if the patent is approved, it doesn’t mean that the company’s going to start working on it immediately
It’s still a far-fetched idea given what we know about autonomous driving technology. But, it’s also not far-fetched in the sense that development of the tech has become one of the top priorities among many automakers today, Ford included. The automaker is arguing that even with the benefits of autonomous driving, traffic violations won’t become relics of the past. “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 company said in its patent application. “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.”
Ford did point out that actual police officers wouldn’t be rendered obsolete because of this technology. According to the patent, “routine tasks,” including the issuing of tickets can be automated, but there are other tasks that are best left to actual officers, including the ability to take control of the police car in high-stress situations, including high-speed chases involving serious crimes.
If all of this sounds foreboding, don’t be scared. Ford said that even if the patent is approved, it doesn’t mean that the company’s going to start working on it immediately. “We submit patents on innovative ideas as a normal course of business,” the company said. “Patent applications are intended to protect new ideas but aren’t necessarily an indication of new business or product plans.”
We can rest easy, at least for now. An army of Barricade Decepticons isn’t arriving to strike fear in our hearts anytime soon.
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