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RoboCop reality: robots and drone patrols coming to your neighborhood

The future is here, and people couldn’t be more excited. We have higher standards of living, instant entertainment, and even next-day delivery for almost anything you could think of. There’s just one detail missing from our modern world (aside from flying cars) that would make it truly futuristic: robots walking among us!

Well, don’t get too comfortable with the state of our future just yet — robots are definitely coming! Police in Southern California have revealed their first automated patrol robot to help assist the department with monitoring parks and public spaces. Meanwhile, a major tech company is bringing the power of surveillance to the people by allowing homeowners to keep an eye on their property from the skies above.

As robots creep into our lives at a rapid pace, it won’t be unusual to see artificial cops and automated drones nearly everywhere we go. This does raise the question, however: Are we truly ready to sacrifice our privacy in the name of technological progress? You won’t believe what these robots are capable of.

California unleashes the HP RoboCop

The Huntington Park Police Department of Southern California recently unveiled the latest addition to its force: a chest-high, egg-shaped robot with wheels that they’re affectionately calling the “HP RoboCop.

This robot isn’t armed with weapons like a traditional police officer (thank goodness), but it is equipped with a 360-degree camera and high-definition microphones to observe and report about its surroundings.

The department has successfully deployed the robot in a variety of locations, including Huntington Park, crosswalks, and even sections of Los Angeles International Airport. According to police, the robot helps officers spread their supervision further than they would be able to normally, and acts as a deterrence to criminal activity in the areas it shows up in.


As of now, there haven’t been plans to permanently expand the range of HP RoboCop, but the Silicon Valley company that makes them is saying the robots are being tested in select cities across the U.S. So if you see a giant egg gliding across the sidewalk in your city, know that the police are watching and listening through its electric eyes and ears!

Amazon enters the home security game

Not to be upstaged by a mere police department, Amazon is giving its users the chance to harness robots for their own safety and protection. A new patent filed by the company proposes the use of Amazon’s fleet of delivery drones as a “service,” meaning the miniature flying vehicles could send snapshots of your property during a package drop-off.

The potential for this service is actually quite interesting. Imagine the drone catching a fire starting at your home when it goes to drop off a package, or maybe even snitching on a burglar trying to make his way inside. The patent is scant on specific details, but judging from the existing content available, the surveillance service could prove popular among Prime users.

Conversely, it may be worth questioning how responsible it will be with its flying camera arrays. The drones already use advanced camera systems to navigate, land, and detect obstacles. It isn’t too much of a stretch to imagine Amazon snapping pictures of your home, noticing you do lawn work often, and recommending lawn care supplies when you shop.


Related: Amazon rolls out more free delivery perks for Prime members


This is pure speculation, of course, but judging by the data-usage habits of other platforms, it doesn’t seem outside of the realm of possibility. Whether people are comfortable with this kind of “personalization” is another matter entirely.

In the battle between HP RoboCop and Amazon delivery drones, however, I would personally side with Amazon. Its primary goal is to sell us things, and the surveillance options it might be offering puts the power of that system in our hands. Plus, the drones are so small they’re unlikely to be able to hurt us much. Unless, of course, one falls out of the sky and on to our head!

Like it or not, the robots are almost here. Are you ready to welcome them into your life?

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