‘Segways on steroids’ set to be the future of urban policing

Urban police forces across the world could soon be taking to electric three-wheelers to boost crowd control and cut crime.

Dubbed Raptor, the electric vehicles are being trialled at several police forces worldwide, with some already taking orders for everyday use.

The vehicles, which have a top speed of 40km/hr (25m/hr), are designed for both indoor and outdoor use, meaning they could be utilised for everything from patrols to sporting events.

Paul Loomes, managing director of Ecospin, the British company behind Raptor, described the vehicles as “Segways on steroids”.

They are driven in a similarly upright style, but are far more nippy, allowing for quick ground coverage and apprehension of criminals.

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The vehicles are particularly effective for crowd control due to their ability to elevate police officers above the heaving masses.

Their ability to start and stop quickly also enables fast dismounting, which Loomes suggested could be effective if an officer needs to quickly jump off and taser an offender.

Their primary use, however, could be in patrols. A trail with French police that saw officers wearing pedometers on foot patrols before using Raptors as an alternative saw far more ground covered with the vehicles, increasing police presence.

The trial saw a remarkable 12% drop in crime in just three months.

Raptors can already be found in several countries worldwide. Loomes said that vehicles have been deployed in the USA, Israel, Mexico, Ireland, England, Canada and Australia.

Montreal police force has already ordered several units for its airport operations, presumably because of the vehicle’s ability to cover ground quickly, and Ecospin has also had an order from Dallas police.

Other forces that have trialled the vehicles include the UK’s Leicester Police and New York Police Department.

Raptors are not just effective policing vehicles, however. They are also being touted as emergency vehicles for paramedics, as well as for a variety of municipal uses.

Private companies and individuals can even make orders, suggesting that Raptor could even become a familiar site of office campuses.


Images courtesy of Raptor / Ecospin Ltd


Artificial Intelligence: Future smartphones will know your mood

Smartphones will soon start to behave as intelligent entities that know how we feel and what our emotions are, as well as being able to predict ways to improve our lives.

Vincent Spruyt from Argus Labs said the company is working on technology that knows what mood you are in and how that’s likely to change.

The artificial intelligence will not just be confined to smartphones, but phones will act as a gateway for predicting our emotions.

During a talk at Internet World in London, he said that the company is currently working on a radio player for a major entertainment company that can pick what song plays next based on your mood.

“You could have an intelligent car. A car that knows you are a very assertive drive and plays the correct music to try and calm you down when it knows there is a traffic jam ahead,” Spruyt said.

The technology could be used by advertisers and those wanting to provide products to people who are in certain moods.

This may include drinks machines that provide you with something that will stimulate you if you are feeling tired.

Other possible uses include predicting what you’ll write in SMS messages and how you will sleep that night.

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The technology, a deep learning system, is based around three different components.

It uses data provided by the user, sensor data from a smartphone, or other gadget, and also their own algorithms. Argus Labs currently has an easy to use context-aware API and SDK.

Spruyt said it is possible to pick up a lot of signs about a person’s mood from the way they use their smartphone.

For example when we are annoyed we may touch the screen of our device with more force and when we are in a good mood we may move the phone around more.

When this is combined with data about our locations and routines, as well as social media data, it is possible for Argus’ software to determine our mood and also predict what they may be like in the future.

At present, according to Spruyt, smartphones are just a “form factor” and something that we are used to.

Even though wearables are redefining what the smartphone is it will probably always act as a gateway between other kinds of sensors.

He said: “A Smartphone should be more than just a phone it should be a smart agent. It should proactively try and think what you think and feel what you feel.”

The more a person uses the framework the better it becomes for them and more it knows about them.

However, there are ethical considerations, as well as the obvious privacy ones, that need to be taken into account.

He said it is ethically difficult to decide whether to play songs based on the current mood of an individual or the upcoming predicted mood – as this could change a person’s mood.



Images courtesy of Argus Labs