Honda CHP Drone Squad

Mercedes-Benz has received coverage aplenty for the Ener-G-Force SUV previewed ahead of the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show. This vehicle might anticipate the future of body design but relies on the steady hand of a highway patrol officer. The Los Angeles Design Challenge slated for November 28th is not entirely tethered to the traditional role of the driver. This contest features entries from Honda and BMW that rely on sensors as well as wireless communications to pursue suspects in 2025. Honda and BMW are mobilizing drones along with unmanned cars to meet the eco-friendly requirements of the challenge.

Honda’s CHP Drone Squad was created as a solution to endless sprawl envisioned for Southern California by 2025. The continued expansion of freeways, spreading of communities and swelling population will create new problems for police departments. The CHP Drone Squad concept begins with the Auto-Drone, an all-electric delivery vehicle that can cover large areas with no emissions. Honda would also include at least one Moto-Drone motorcycle that could be deployed for high-speed chases. This mobile enforcement module can be operated entirely without human drivers. The Auto-Drone is capable of traveling off road and keeping up with speeding perpetrators. A design team including Jason Wilbur, Eddie Birtulescu and Raj Rihal seemed inspired as much by Knight Rider as an alt-fuel future.

Honda-CHP-Drone-Squad-Concept

The BMW E-Patrol Concept designed by Jose Casas and Won Awe focuses more on speed rather than range. BMW anticipates a future where police officers have to contend with worsening traffic and high speeds. These conditions contribute to increased accidents, speeding tickets and other incidents requiring immediate attention. A primary vehicle operated by a police officer holds three drones capable of responding to incidents within seconds of deployment. The officer can send out a flying drone that assesses accidents from above and tracks suspects until additional units arrive. A pair of single-wheel drones can pursue conventional vehicles at highway speeds and force speeders to the side of the road.

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BMW e-patrol

The 2012 Los Angeles Design Challenge forces automakers to create unconventional solutions for police departments of the future. This challenge requires participants to use original designs that can work in the real world while reducing environmental impacts. BMW and Honda certainly met the former requirement though details about drive systems were not yet available. A glimpse at sketches for the CHP Drone Squad and the E-Patrol Concept reveals solutions for a dystopian future akin to Robocop that are hopefully prevented well before 2025.

The Ener-G-Force, the CHP Drone Squad and E-Patrol Concept generate buzz but we must be mindful of realistic concerns for potential customers. Officials from the city level through state government could still be facing significant budgetary constraints by 2025. A realization of even a handful of green vehicles from the Los Angeles Design Challenge would require infrastructure investment that has not yet materialized. Automakers might not bring drones and unmanned police vehicles to market anytime soon but eco-friendly infrastructure must be created to ensure public safety as police departments head toward new technology.

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