With shades of Minority Report, Japanese security services company SECOM unveiled an autonomous flying crime-prevention robot to the press on December 26. Basically a flying surveillance camera, the robot is the first of its kind in the world to be offered for private security use. Shuji Maeda, SECOM’s president, said he hoped to make the device available in 2014.
Resembling a small-scale helicopter, the robot is packed with a wide array of sensors and works in conjunction with various SECOM security systems. Should an unauthorized person of vehicle enter the robot’s patrol zone, it will automatically draw near and snap pictures of the intruder’s face or car’s license plate and send the image data back to SECOM’s security center in real time. Equipped with LED spotlights, the robot is also able to take accurate pictures indentifying car and clothing colors even at night.
On-board sensors allow the robot to maintain a constant distance between itself and any suspicious person and to also move quickly out of harm’s way should someone try to knock it down. Using GPS, the robot can be programmed not to fly beyond a predetermined area. The model currently being tested uses a small-scale, commercially available German-made helicopter as its platform, however, the company is considering switching to an in-house developed platform when it actually starts marketing the device.
President Maeda said he would like to offer the mini copter’s services for “about 5,000 yen (Approx. US$58) a month” and has set a first-year sales target of 1,000 units. “It can be used as a value-added option for the 800,000 security systems we are already operating domestically,” noted executive office Tsuneo Komatsuzaki, who added the Company expected users would also come up with new ideas for the device’s use.