A recently published patent application by Ford (first applied for in 2016 ) highlights what could be one example of how technology will impact on policing in the future in the US. The patent application relates to migrating autonomous car technology over to policing with a view to creating what is fully autonomous police vehicles which can also act as fully autonomous police officers.
This is due to the patent application describing how this autonomous vehicle type will not only be able to do the now-basic autonomous vehicle actions (such as driving itself) but also act as a police officer when it comes to more minor traffic violations. For example, when another car is spotted jumping a red light, or speeding, the autonomous police vehicle will be able to take direct action. This is best summed up in the first mage below which highlights that when a traffic violation has been lodged by the police vehicle, the police vehicle will not only be able to register a violation ticket to the driver (the owner – by presumably cross-referencing against an accessed database) but will even be able to connect to the car in question and determine whether the car is being driven autonomously, or by a human driver. To add to that, the police vehicle will be able to communicate to the car (and the driver) the infringement and the issuing of a violation ticket.
Other images in the patent application go on to further highlight how this connected car will likely be able to go well beyond registering infringements based on its own sensors. As this is essentially a connected device, it will likely be able to connect to other smart city-enabled devices to further identify when and how infringements occur. A speed or traffic light camera being two such examples. Therefore the car itself is unlikely to need to actually be in the vicinity of an infringement when it occurs, to be aware of the infringement and/or act upon it. Whether nearby or not, the police vehicle will be able to actively pursue the infringing vehicle if deemed necessary. It is worth keeping in mind this is at present just a patent application, so not only has it seemingly not been approved yet, but even after approval, there is no guarantee the technology detailed will become a reality. Although it does highlight the type of thinking companies are employing to how smart cities will look and work in the future.