Police body cams will soon use AI to find missing people

Smart surveillance equipment is going on patrol.

Motorola Solutions -- not to be confused with smartphone maker Motorola -- is adding machine learning to its surveillance equipment used by law enforcement personnel. Cops in Chicago's Waukegan police department are already suiting up with the company's Si500 body cams. But those same cameras could soon pack AI that could help officers identify objects and missing people. A prototype device is in the works with Neurala, a deep learning startup that recently integrated its software with drones to track poachers in Africa.

In the near future, the camera will be able to recognize images and communicate that data with other Si500s. For example, if a cop were seeking a missing child, the body cam could learn the infant's likeness from an image. That info would then be automatically distributed to other officers wearing the device, allowing them to take part in the search. Neurala claims that its AI will even be able to pick out a person of interest in crowded public spaces.

Of course, using AI-integrated surveillance systems does pose concerns over public privacy and the potential misuse of the tech. That didn't stop police in the UK from arresting a man using automatic facial-recognition software last month. Meanwhile, researchers in the US are working on an AI system that allows robots to work with each other on tracking objects. At this rate, cybernetics could deliver a robocop sooner than we think. Let's just hope it's not judge, jury, and executioner all rolled into one.