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Robots for law enforcement in India

Arjun Rao - Hyderabad Public School


Technology has been used in the fields of finance, education and countless others to increase the efficiency of those systems. In order for the government to effectively administrate they will also have to adopt such technologies. We have seen this in some government services like the RTA which was one of the first Government agencies to use smart cards, online registration portals etc. which have increased the efficiency of those systems. Given that we have the technology and the great need, law enforcement must also start making use of artificial intelligence and emerging technologies.

While this is a concept which has been discussed and debated for very long it hasn’t been used to its full potential yet. In the developed world, countries like The United States have used robots and drones for law enforcement to some extent. Even India currently has 1074 jurisdictions with some modern technological equipment. The law enforcement in the United States has used robots for three main purposes; Road checks, capturing suspected criminals and finally for deactivating explosive materiel. Robots have assisted law enforcement in the capturing of a suspect in the Boston marathon bombing. Apart from conventional robots. AI enabled Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAV) and Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV) such as drones have also been used for surveillance. India currently does have one law enforcement robot which has been used on an experimental basis in Telangana but in the absence of a framework and policy on the use of robots for Law Enforcement, there is not much traction on the subject. It is imperative that with the evolution of technology, governments can and will acquire more such hardware.

This paper attempts to lay down the broad policy and roadmap for introduction of Robots for enhancing Law Enforcement in India.

Scope: The paper will examine the following:

(a) Need for law enforcement robots.

(b) Framework required for law enforcement robots to be used.

(c) Commission and usage of robots.

(d) Examples of Law enforcement robots can and are being used.

(e) Implementation of robots for law enforcement.

1. Need for law enforcement robots:

1.1 Casualty Reduction The most obvious requirement for using robots in Law Enforcement Operations (LEO) is casualty reduction by adding a layer of dispensable hardware between the police officers and offenders. As per available records, 450 Indian police officers died on duty between 2016 and 2019. While human intervention in specialized operations will continue in the foreseeable future, routine police operations can rely on robots thus reducing casualty figures and thereby saving intangible costs of the Govt. The same has been verified by the CEO of endeavor robotics who said that “by adding space and time between the operator robots are an element which can potentially reduce casualties”. It stands to logic that if most of the frontline is composed of robots, casualties will automatically reduce.

1.2 Cost Reduction

Most opponents of using robots in LEO point out to the high costs of procurement and maintenance. This is not a justifiable stand. While it is agreed that replacing manpower with robots will have high Capital or acquisition costs, it will definitely reduce costs in the long run as recurring costs on salaries, benefits and pensions reduce. Even today, the proportion of budgetary spends on salaries outweigh operational costs as shown in the example below.

In 2020, Delhi police’s budget was 8644 crores out of that 8100 crores, was spent on salaries and pensions. Use of robots in law enforcement will definitely not replace humans on the force but will surely reduce them. In the long term this will reduce costs.

1.3. Reduction in cases of violence against Police/ Police brutality

People are more dangerous when they are scared. A police officer provokes a feeling of fear in people. When a person is not scared there would be no reason to harm a person. A police officer not being physically present with a person will also lead to a decrease in police violence.

1.4. Decrease in Corruption in the department

The Indian police ranks 80 out of 180 on the corruption index. It is a system prone to bribery and kleptocracy. Using AI in such system will allow for full transparency as verified by IBM. So, adoption of technology in law enforcement will reduce corruption.

1.5. Increased Efficiency of law enforcement

Robots have thermal imaging technology, facial recognition software etc. which increase their efficiency. They make use of such software and will be able to catch people committing a crime more easily. This system has worked in China where nearly 5000 people were caught by the facial recognition software on the CCTV’s of the country.

2. Framework required for law enforcement robots to be used

2.1 Pre- Induction Actions

Before any revolutionary plan a base for the plan has to be made. In this case the base for the plan will be updating India’s technological infrastructure. In this phase three basic things should be done. Firstly, increase the number of surveillances. Secondly, digitalize all handwritten records and provide systems for immediate online entry. Lastly, ensure the cybersecurity of all law enforcement services.

2.2 Increase number of surveillance equipment

Surveillance equipment like CCTV cameras and online activity monitors should be increased. The law enforcement should collaborate with shops, corporates, IT companies etc. to compile a database. Facial recognition software should be used to identify people and catch them if they commit any crime. Distribution of CCTV’s should happen in rural and urban zones. Surveillance equipment should be distributed in accordance with telegraph act, right to privacy and other laws which are there and will be formed.

2.3 Digitalize and link records

The good work under ‘national digital India’ program should go on. The law enforcement must make databases about citizens and must update crime records as soon as possible. This is where big data plays an important in law enforcement. Countries like China have started making such databases with the help of private contractors like Sensetime. This will not only increase the efficiency of law enforcement but will also give a boost to companies in this field.

2.4 Cybersecurity

As a country technologically progresses it is important for that country to secure its cyberspace. The national institute of sciences and technologies (NIST) will have to develop better cybersecurity for the law enforcement in so that, these databases are not hacked into. Israeli cybersecurity is arguably the best the best in the world. India can profit from our relations with this country in this leap to modernize the law enforcement.

Note: These steps will have to be followed by the law enforcement before they start to actively use robots for patrolling and other activities.

3. Commission and usage of Robots

3.1 After the framework for using robots and drones is set up, the plan’s second phase should be initiated. This part will focus on the way in which robots will be used to prevent and catch crime.

3.2 Examples of robots which can and are being used in law enforcement today.

Make : RoboCop Company : H Bot Price : INR 5 Lakhs Use Case : It is a humanoid robot capable of surveillance and crime prevention.


Make : S5.2

Company : SMP Robotics

Price : Available on lease at INR 11 Lakhs/Month

Use Case : Patrol robot capable of surveillance.


Make : Terrascout

Company : Yamaha

Use Case : Autonomous vehicle capable of patrolling.


Make : Packbot Company : FLIR Price : INR 74 Lakhs Use Case : Multi-mission robot capable of bomb disposal, surveillance and recon

3.3 It may be noted that these are few robots available for the law enforcement to use in the current market. With evolution of technologies new robots will be developed and should be used since their efficiency will be higher. The only requirements the set of robots will need to meet is that they should perform all the major frontline jobs of the law enforcement like the above set does.

4. Implementation of Robots for Law Enforcement

4.1 There is no doubt that Robots are going to revolutionize the Indian law enforcement. Along with its various controls, sensors and crime prevention tools it is going to decrease crime. There has been no study to show how many robots will be required to man the frontline of the police as of now but Future studies by the government will definitely give us a figure as to how many robots will be required. As the popularity of robots increases, prices will also decrease. So, by the time the second phase is initiated prices will be far lesser than what they are Thereby, difficult to approximate.

4.2 The commissioning of robots and drones will take place only after they pass the required tests. With the use of Drone technology, large areas can be patrolled very easily. This system of increasing the number of drones and robots in use will not remove people from the force as being contemplated. Like any other technological revolution, it will entail more of a role change. The people who are in the police department will be in charge of monitoring these robots and drones. Their on-ground presence will also be required in some cases but only after a robot goes there. Given the economic and educational divide in India many people from lower economic classes will have to be educated about this new system to get the same opportunity to use it and not get scared of it. This plan to modernize our law enforcement system should ideally be in full effect by the year 2050. While other systems like financial ones, transport ones modernized the law enforcement system was largely unchanged this is how we can change it now.

4.3. Roadmap. In the Indian or Developing countries context, priorities will often determine the budgetary support required for implementation of any revolutionary system and while degradation of Law & Order may be more prevalent, may get lower priority to other social problems. Even so, based on the growth of Indian economy, increasing tech expertise and rising crime rates, the following is suggested:

Phase 1: Digitisation, implementation of e surveillance and enhancement of cyber security: – 5 – 10 years Up-to 2025.

Phase 2: Testing and Trials phase. Sample urban areas to set up a Robotic Control Centre over a limited area to test efficacy and response: - Up-to 2035

Phase 3: Controlled phase wise roll out Pan India: - Up-to 2050


Using robots in law enforcement will enhance the efficiency of the department, will decrease corruption and police violence and will reduce cost in the long term. A plan for using robots in the police will greatly modernize the department. This plan is split into three phases. The first stage is the basic resources which will be required for the use of robots. These include increasing the number of CCTV cameras, bettering our cybersecurity and digitalizing our files. Phase two and three deal with commissioning and usage of robots which also defines the role of the policeman in the future. It is estimated that full initiation of this plan can be by the year 2050 with the political will and investment by private companies into tech for LEO.


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