It sounds like a scenario from a science fiction film, but in the Middle East, this is now a reality. The police force of the city of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates is now using police drones with facial recognition to track down criminals. To this end, artificial intelligence is used, linked to a database of wanted persons.
Emirates Police drones use facial recognition to track down criminals
The Sharjah Police Force first began investigating in 2016 the potential of drones to support police work. Initially, it mainly concerned support during calamities and rescue operations. Later, applications such as traffic monitoring, search for missing persons, surveillance, crowd control, and the enforcement of COVID-19 measures were added.
The latest application goes a lot further. The force now uses drones with artificial intelligence (AI), and specifically in the field of facial recognition. To this end, photos of criminals are loaded into a video surveillance system to which the drones are also connected. The drones are then launched near busy roads. All faces that come into view are compared in real-time with those in the database.
The system works as follows. After the camera onboard the drone detects a potential suspect, the drone will fly lower to get a better view of the person. After that, several shots are taken. These are transferred to a mobile control room via a 5G connection. Based on machine learning, the images are further checked for similarities. Once a match is found, the police take action.
Police drones used 200 times in last month
Sharjah Police’s innovation director Saeed Bin Hada told Gulf News that 200 drone operations were carried out in the past month alone. It is not clear whether the new facial recognition application has already resulted in actual arrests.
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Photo credit: Sharjah Police