As Amazon presses on with its plan to one day send package-carrying drones on delivery runs to customers, the company has revealed it also has an idea for police to utilize its UAV technology in other ways.
Described as an “unmanned aerial vehicle assistant,” the miniature quadcopter dreamed up by Amazon engineers would sit on the shoulders of law enforcers until called into action. You read that right, we’re talking shoulder drones for cops.
But before you shut the idea down, lets take a closer look at what Amazon has in mind.
The patent explains that the camera-equipped drone, would be voice-activated for ease of use. It would enable an officer to assess a location or specific object in greater detail – and from a safe distance – by hovering over and around it. The drone would stream live video back to the cop so he or she can make a more informed judgment on how to proceed.
It’s also suggested the the palm-sized flying machine could provide “enhanced support for police during routine traffic stops,” gathering data before returning to the cop’s shoulder to reconnect with its charging station.
The drone could be used to track down a lost child in a crowd, too, or a specific vehicle in a parking lot. It should even be able to track a suspect fleeing on foot, or, depending on the camera’s capabilities, be used to identify developing incidents such as early-stage fires.
Considering another recent idea included cops with taser-equipped quadcopters, this idea doesn’t seem too bad. Amazon’s idea has caught the attention of Shankar Narayan, the technology and liberty project director for the American Civil Liberties Union in the company’s home city of Seattle.
He’s claimed not only that the drones could be so small they may be able to collect information without a suspect’s knowledge, but also that they could incorporate facial-recognition software to help police ID suspects.
“We want to make sure the use of this technology doesn’t turn into an open fishing expedition just because modern technology makes it possible,” Narayan commented.
As always, it should be noted that at this stage it’s merely an idea and not on any Amazon roadmap (that we know of). Still, it’s interesting to see what kinds of ideas are popping into the minds of the people who could one day make them a reality.