Coronavirus: Use of autonomous robot for law enforcement during COVID-19 lockdown

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Published: April 5, 2020 5:04:06 PM

The North African nation Tunisia which has 436 people being treated for COVID-19, has already deployed a police robot for patrolling areas of Tunis, and ensuring the people are following the lockdown order.

For the police force, resources are under constraints to establish the sanctity of the Law and Order directives as per the instructions given by the government. For the police force, resources are under constraints to establish the sanctity of the Law and Order directives as per the instructions given by the government. (IE File image)

In its efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, there is an urgent need for the police to monitor and to control non-essential movement outside homes being illegal activity and deter people from breaking regulations.

There have been reports about unruly behaviour from several locations including the quarantine facilities and hospital zones which can be areas for the police to monitor while maintaining law and order.

The North African nation Tunisia which has 436 people being treated for COVID-19, has already deployed a police robot for patrolling areas of Tunis, and ensuring the people are following the lockdown order.

In India, a police robot can be deployed inside hospitals to avoid any disruption of the medical activities caused by undesired incidents and can help in improving the efficiency of the medical teams too, who are working 24×7, to contain the spread.

Advantages Using Robocop

Policing in Hospital Zones

Placing a human policeman on duty in virus-contaminated bio-hazardous zones like hospital isolation wards is not advisable, and even nursing staff enter these areas only for essential patient care and that too with full PPE gear. A Robocop can be put to implement law and order.

Patrolling the Streets

For the police force, resources are under constraints to establish the sanctity of the Law and Order directives as per the instructions given by the government. By placing Robocops in main streets of the city, police teams can operate from either from within the safety of their vehicles or remotely from an Operations Centre. “This Robocop has the ability to move and be commanded remotely to investigate people and places as required. Presently, while a patrol team is underway during an area security rounds, their field of view is drastically reduced due to limited human senses (especially in darkness) and lack of recording for quick analysis. Robocop equipment can give a better advantage of range, quicker data collection and recordable information for transmission and instantaneous analysis. These real-time pictures and video feed from a Robocop can — Capture pictures as required for police’s situation assessment, investigation and decision making; Send video live feed to the Police Control Room for better situation assessment and response; and set off a Police warning alarm for warding off nuisance makers,” explains Milind Kulshreshtha, C4I expert.

“It may seem that the Robocop rovers move slow, but the role for them is not to chase but stop and interact with people around, while recording and transmitting real-time view of the present area to the Police Command Post. These Robocop have the ability to interact with humans and pass remote instructions to the offenders to get indoors,” he says.

Use of specialised surveillance robots

According to the C4I expert, “A Robocop, with an autonomous driving capability utilise Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools for navigation by creating a digital map of its surroundings. Such ground rovers have been already effectively used by the Indian armed forces for border patrolling duties and more critically, in explosive ordnance disposal work. For handling explosives, the unmanned ground rover has specialised arms attached and a safe keep container while carrying the explosive onboard to a disposal site.”

Robocop Design and Technology

The basic feature of a Robocop is that they are Unmanned Ground Vehicles with specialized sensors and equipment fitted onboard. “The movement of these autonomous vehicles requires GPS and a navigation system. They use LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technique for avoiding obstacles. LIDAR works similar to a Radar system but uses light pulses instead of RF waves for target detection. On top of these ground rovers, an optical gadget scans 360 degrees while regularly firing invisible laser pulses in all directions. Using the reflected lasers and the time taken to return, the LIDAR can measure the distance to each of the obstacles. LIDAR uses the onboard GPS and other sensors (like accelerometers, inertial guidance systems and gyrocompasses) and correlates it with the navigational data from stored maps to create a three-dimensional array of LIDAR measurements for navigation in real-time,” Kulshreshtha adds.

These ground rovers work on batteries and can give up to eight hours of operational time on a full charge. The specialized sensors could minimally be two movable day cameras, four HD Infra-Red (IR) cameras and a movable 360-degree thermal camera.

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