New Self-Driving Police Car Patrols Dubai

Security car robot has facial recognition, number plate recognition plus a thermal heat camera - and moves on its own

Purpose of O-R3

Police in Dubai have revealed that miniature, self-driving, futuristic vehicles will patrol the streets from late 2017. The OTSAW Digital O-R3 – that stands about waist height – is reminiscent of a battery powered toy car children sit in and drive.

Its purpose is to complete routine, lower skill, repetitive tasks so that police officers can focus their attention elsewhere. “Robots exist to improve the quality of human lives”, the company said. They enable people to take on “high value” roles at regular hours whilst machines perform “low skill tasks at punishing hours”.

Facial recognition

The O-R3 has a range of skills. Its facial recognition camera identifies people, for starters. When patrolling a secure site it therefore distinguishes between staff, visitors and intruders. If an intruder tries to escape it follows - and alerts a control centre that is manned by police. The officers respond as necessary.

Perhaps the intruder hides in woodland where there is acres of heavy camouflage. The location is revealed by a thermal imaging camera that scans for body heat. Furthermore, if the intruder is faster than the vehicle – or runs into a region it cannot follow – a flying drone emerges from a draw in its rear to continue pursuit. 

Registration plate recognition

Registration plate recognition enables the security robot to identify a vehicle of interest to the authorities. Perhaps it has been parked in a restricted area. The O-R3 reports its presence to the control centre then police officers intercept it, if necessary.


OTSAW Digital O-R3 has various systems that help it manoeuvre autonomously. The LIDAR (light detection and ranging) scans for hazards such as cars and trees. The most visible component is a cylinder on the roof. It fires light – in every direction – then builds images based on how long it takes to bounce back. O-R3 also:

  • Enables officers to take manual control remotely
  • Returns to its charge point automatically, as required 
  • Confirms its location via Global Positioning Satellites (GPS)
  • Reports abandoned bags that potentially pose a threat
  • Operates 24/7
  • Has a futuristic look and predominantly black livery
  • Enables officers to choose which tasks to prioritise

Dubai Police Commander-in-Chief, Abdullah Khalifa Al Merri, explained: “We always search for the best technology to serve our police work for a safer and smarter city. We seek to augment operations with the help of technology such as robots. We aim for streets to be safe and peaceful even without heavy police patrols”.