Police cars of the very near future will be smart to the point of being scary. Equipped with eight cameras, voice commands, incredibly intelligent software, and LTE radios, you're not going to get away with a damn thing.
Motorola Solutions isn't working on building the latest and greatest Droid—that's Motorola Mobility—these guys have their fingers more in corporate and governmental pots. Engineers have done hundreds of ride-alongs, surveys, and simulations, and have applied all of their wireless knowledge into designing a police car that is so advanced it's actually very unsettling. Here are some highlights:
Automated License Plate RecognitionThe car's outward facing cameras will be scanning every license plate that passes through their field of vision. Impossible, you say? Using infrared as well as standard cameras, Motorola says their system can see and store up 10,000 license plates in a shift. In bad weather. Even if there's a 130MPH difference in speed between the cars. All of which is insane. According to Motorola, "Typically, the system will scan and recognize a plate in about 1-2 seconds and compare it instantaneously against a locally-stored database of plates of interest (i.e. stolen cars, known felons, people who haven't paid their parking tickets in years, etc)." The system would then alert the officer. Um, wow.
A central database will also keep track of what cars were where and when. Why? Say there was a murder on the 100 block of X Street. Cops put the time of death at about 3pm. If a patrol car just happened to have passed by that block 15 minutes earlier, they have a list of all the cars that were parked in that area. If another killing happens somewhere else, and again, the cops had driven by some time around then, the system can cross-check those licenses and come up with a list of suspects. That's an extreme example, of course, but that's how it could be used. Could it also be misused? Yeah, it most definitely could.
LTE and CamerasAll those cameras? In addition to constantly caching video, they can also stream it back to headquarters in realtime. If a cop pulls someone over, that means more eyes can be on the situation. Such a thing was impossible in the past because there was no wireless technology that could handle that kind of bandwidth. 4G to the rescue. The LTE also means that the officer in the field will have greatly enhanced access to remote computer systems.
LTE aside, the onboard computer will be a pair of eyes as well. The car may be able to see something the cop can't, especially at night, or when the officer is already over at the suspect's vehicle. If, for example, one of the cameras detects motion in the suspect's back seat, the computer system can sound an alert to warn the officer of potential danger. I'd say this has a high potential for false-positives, but I didn't get to see it in action. One of the ways it might alert the officer, besides the obvious bleat from the siren, is via the...