Robocop in Hyderabad: Beginning of smart policing in India?

By Udita Shukla 

A Hyderabad-based start-up, H-Bots Robotics, has recently developed an autonomous robot.  Named after the 26/11 martyr Hemant Karkare, the life-sized bot is meant to be the flag-bearer of smart policing in the country.

Features of the bot

The bot possesses abilities to recognise people, lodge complaints, sense bombs, identify suspects and interact with people. Additionally, the ‘robocop’ is capable of assisting the police in traffic management, handling security procedures at selected locations at malls, airports and other miscellaneous public places.

The present version can be equated to security personnel equipped to protect and secure public and private areas. Mobile, alert and responsive, the humanoid is armed with dual Light Emitting Diodes (LED) lights, thermal imaging, and emergency amber flashlights. Additionally, it is suitable for both outdoor and indoor jobs.

Amazingly, the intelligent robocop is entirely indigenous – components and systems comprising the humanoid have been manufactured in India. According to H-Bots founder, P S V Kisshhan who also conceptualised the robot, “This smart ‘robocop’ with its autonomous physical presence interacts with its surrounding environment gathering data in real-time and detects irregularities without user interface without resting and operates at a fraction of the cost normally paid for technology, cameras, sensors and guard services”.

The bot is about five-foot-seven inches in height, weighs around forty-three kilograms, and has built-in cameras, proximity sensors, temperature sensors, etc. With unhindered and continuous connectivity with its (human) controllers, as well as its own live video stream on an as-needed basis, it communicates in English, but its developers plan to teach it Hindi and Telugu, among other regional languages.

The bot’s potential

The roll-out of a smart cop ushers in a new era of automation in the country, as well as changed the way policing and law enforcement is perceived in general. Recently, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) embraced the use of data modelling and analysis in order to nip unwanted elements in the bud, and gain a sharper and more transparent picture of the crime scene in the country.

The bot has immense potential for police operations, especially involving informants, anti-sexual harassment teams, traffic management, etc. Gradually but steadily, India seems to be advancing towards a much more structured system, which is not only more accountable but also technologically advanced. Moreover, each robocop is priced at around five lakh rupees, which means affordability has been already factored in.

Catering to the demand for the bot  

The current launch is a beta test version, which upon successful and satisfactory performance within the next five to six months, will be deployed commercially in the city by July. As per the company, H-Bots presently possesses the capacity to produce seventy such bots annually. Also, the start-up intends to start shipping its product to other countries by the end of 2018. The current price-range is between five to twenty lakh Indian rupees. Going by the promising returns of investment, the market for automated, programmed assistants may take off soon enough to crowd public places, hospitals, etc. The magnitude of intellectual resources and the amount of money pooled in the research and development of neural networks and artificially intelligent systems, on a global scale, is increasing fast. With the advent of self-driving cars widely expected towards the end of this, automation and A.I. technologies have matured enough to be able to monitor places and steer most emergency situations.

With a robotic citizen in Saudi Arabia, an A.I. politician in New Zealand, and our own robocop, it is hard to predict the next (higher) level of automation. What is certain, is that they are here not only to stay but also thrive!

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