Law enforcement agencies across the US are lining up to be among the first to use drones to serve and protect, but unmanned vehicles are likely to replace the traditional cop cruiser in just a few short years.
In places like California, Texas and Washington State, police officers in recent weeks have intensified their demands for surveillance drones, a necessary addition they say to their arsenal of tools to help thwart crime. The Federal Aviation Administration has yet to finalize plans to put drones in US airspace, but by the end of the decade as many as 30,000 UAVs are expected to be soaring through the sky.
By 2025, those drones are predicted to take the place of the police patrol car as unmanned vehicles operated by cops are being considered a likely inclusion on our roads of tomorrow.
Leading up to this year’s Los Angeles Auto Show, carmakers were asked to put together prototypes showing what they envision highway patrol vehicles to look like in the year 2025. The entries, from big manufacturers like BWM and Honda, are largely based on the still primitive drone technology that is used in military and surveillance missions overseas.
The car show’s organizers asked designers to develop a vehicle that “should empower highway patrol officers to meet new demands and effectively both ‘protect and serve’ the public while considering not just enforcement needs but emission concerns, population growth and transportation infrastructure.”
According to the New York Times, drone devices are far and away the popular choice.
“By coincidence or destiny, designers at several companies came up with concepts for robotic, autonomously driven vehicles on ground, water and air. These future police cruisers — usually presented as story boards rather than actual vehicles — recall today’s Predator and Global Hawk drones, stars of the anti-insurgency efforts. They may give new meaning to those signs that read ‘Speed limit enforced by aircraft,’” writes the Times’ Phil Patton.