Currently, the absolute state of the art in robotics has robots that can’t open doors without falling down and cars that run into buses at low speed. And these are the robots that Google and DARPA have spent millions over the years developing. It seems unlikely that a Chinese knock-off can do what they can’t, or that arming it with a taser would be a good idea, and yet, that’s exactly what China is doing.
Called AnBot, the Chinese government claims the robot in question represents a great leap forward in both autonomous navigation and automated video analysis, and it has an “electrically charged riot-control tool” which, thankfully, is deployed by humans. So at least this thing can’t just run around tasering people yet. It can also move at up to roughly 10 miles an hour and patrols at a walking pace, and has a handy SOS button, in case anybody in China really wants to run up to a Dalek with a taser for help.
Beyond the fact that thing looks like a giant citrus reamer and can fry you, there are a few rather obvious problems Chinese authorities haven’t answered, like what happens when a suspect runs up a flight of stairs, or slams a door in its face. Or how, precisely, they’ve managed to defeat the problem of having a robot move quickly through rapidly changing environments with lots of obstacles, which is a major focus of robotics research at the moment. Or what happens if somebody decides to introduce Robocop here to the front end of an SUV. Keep in mind, China has just learned the hard way that robots can’t even deliver soup to a table. Somehow, we think this Robocop initiative just isn’t going to end well, but if the robots rebel, at least we’re safe as long as we have a door handy.