An engineer in California built a police officer robot dubbed GoBetween with the aim of making routine traffic stops safer for police and motorists alike.
Reuben Brewer, a mechanical engineer at SRI International in California built the prototype GoBetween robot, which is attached to an apparatus that extends to the motorist's window from the officer's patrol car and even deploys spikes to prevent the driver from fleeing the scene of a robot.
"I got tired of hearing news reports of motorists and cops getting run over in traffic stops, usually in what seemed like preventable situations," Brewer said.
"I’d be absolutely thrilled for this robot to save even a single life." "No one should die in a traffic stop." Video of the GoBetween robot demonstrates how the robot is operated from the inside of a police car, which doesn't require the officer to make contact with motorists.
The next generation prototype will be able to operate from outside of a police car via a mobile app. It features stowing in the front of the police car and has the ability to access both the passenger and driver's side windows.
Once the police car parks behind a motorist's car, the GoBetween robot rolls up to the driver's side window of the offending motorist's car, where acts as the officer's ears, mouth and eyes.
Aside from the traffic spikes, the robot itself is not armed with any weaponry. "
The robot is purely defensive, so it can’t hurt the motorist," Brewer explained.
Data scientist Amy Shoemaker with the Stanford Open Policing Project (Formerly Known as the Law, Order and Algorithm project) says it won't solve every traffic stops safety issue.
Shoemaker says the goal is to prevent some tragedies.
"If there is a role for this tool, it's to help prevent tragedies like Philando Castile's death.
"Every year 16,915,140 drivers are pulled-over in traffic, 195,078 motorists have physical force used on them, 4,488 officers are assaulted, 89 of those motorists die, and 11 of those officers die," Brewer, a Senior Robotics Research Engineer at SRI International’s Applied Technologies and Science Department, said.
"With such dangerous interactions between people, maybe it’s time to send a robot in between them, one that can’t hurt or be hurt."
Brewer, who constructed the first GoBetween police robot prototype in his garage, bolted the robot to his own car during his initial test run.
While he's optimistic, the robotics engineer remains realistic and knows it won't solve every safety issue with traffic stops.
"It's only part of the solution," he said.
"But I hope one day it could save lives."
Watch video footage demonstrating how the robot works above.