Security robot that can spot suspicious individuals now being used at Dubai airport
04/02/2018 // David Williams // Views

Airport security in most countries is already tight enough as it is, with multiple points of inspection often present beginning from the arrival area going inward. But there are some who think that security efforts can be increased even further. In Dubai, a new experimental robot is being tested, and its sole purpose is to find and catch suspicious or wanted individuals.

Indeed, a robot that is said to have the ability to detect and also report any and all suspicious people will be deployed at Dubai airports very soon. While unprecedented, this initiative is already in its initial stages, with the implementation of the new robot currently undergoing a pilot phase. It is said that the robot will be placed mainly at the arrival section of the airport, and when you think about it, that's about the best place that it could be positioned in.

According to Khalid Al Zarooni, an innovation specialist at the Dubai Custom's Innovation Center, this suspicious-people-targeting robot could be their best creation yet. "This is an android. It still hasn't been implemented fully, but it has gone through a piloting phase around the airports," he explained. "It's probably going to be our best innovation, when it gets implemented in full."

Referring to the robot's special abilities, Al Zarooni said that it makes full use of several built-in sensors and scanners to "read" people going through the airport. In particular, he refers to the "brain" as the source of most of its abilities. "The brain in the android has so many features and tools connected into it, such as facial recognition, X-ray scanning and thermal vision," he said. "What it does is that it gathers data from these features and compiles it into a threat assessment and then it gives alerts to the control room."


The existence of such a robot in the arrival section of an airport could drastically cut down the time it takes to catch dangerous criminals once they land in designated countries. And even when the robot can't detect any suspicious individuals, it can still make itself useful. It does this by performing one other task besides its main one, and that is to act as a greeter to any and all travelers coming through the airport.

The android that can detect and report suspicious people wasn't the only one showcased coming soon to Dubai airports. Al Zarooni also talked about a smart vehicle that's meant to act as a mobile inspection unit. It is said that the purpose of this one is to "clear custom declarations and assist people with special needs." It could prove useful to speed up the process of getting through the airport for certain types of individuals. (Related: "Excuse me, are you a robot in the Surveillance State?")

"It's on call in cooperation with international airlines," explained Al Zarooni. "They let us know who are special needs people. Either we go to them or they call us and we take the car to them." At the moment, there are about three at the airports, he added further.

The aforementioned android, this vehicle is equipped with a built-in face detection scanner, which is said to be linked directly to the Interpol. "So anyone who is wanted, it automatically picks up their facial signature and informs the control room," Al Zarooni said.

Assuming that the rate of false positives is low, this is clearly game-changing technology in the making. If it can be implemented successfully in Dubai, then perhaps the rest of the world's airport may follow suit.

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