From Almost Human to Knight Rider to RoboCop, science-fiction is fascinated by the idea that robots will someday become superior crime-fighters. Human policeman are prone to obesity, anger, and near-constant use of their cell phones while on patrol. A robot however, would only vigilantly patrol the city, acting not on its hunger or need to complain about their job on Facebook, but rather on the existing laws of the city (and of robotics). In the very near future, the NYPD might be one step closer to that beautiful standard.
The Wall Street Journal profiles the new NYPD "smart" car prototype, which will come equipped with infrared cameras that mark down all passing license plates and addresses, as well as air-sensors that can send real-time information to police headquarters ("Registering increased readings of Cannabis undergoing combustion, Officer. Proceed with extinguishing protocol?"). The cruiser would also have a video camera that would send images of a crime scene to headquarters (because in the near-future, NYPD officers will most likely still refuse to wear cameras).
The patrol car will monitor any passing vehicle and take its information down for future reference.
"It reads any set of numbers," Deputy Inspector Brandon del Pozo told the Journal. "If it doesn't get a hit, it gets stored. We don't look at [the results] unless an investigation points to them."
A prototype is already cruising the streets of Brooklyn Heights. It will be up to incoming police commissioner Bratton if and when the new patrol cars begin their long road to total domination of the human race.