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This Police Robot Could Make Traffic Stops Safer

Some see the simple device as a way to curb the potentially deadly confrontations between officers and motorists.

A California man has built a robot that he hopes will take some of the danger out of traffic stops — those anxiety-provoking and potentially deadly encounters between police officers and motorists that play out on American roads more than 50,000 times a day.

The GoBetween robot is attached to a rod that extends forward from an officer’s car to a motorist’s window, enabling the officer and the motorist to communicate with one another without leaving their vehicles. The bot can even issue a ticket.

“I got tired of hearing news reports of motorists and cops getting shot or run over in traffic stops, usually in what seemed like preventable situations,” Reuben Brewer, a mechanical engineer at the nonprofit research organization SRI International in Menlo Park, California, and the robot’s inventor, said in an email. “I’d be absolutely thrilled for this robot to save even a single life … No one should die in a traffic stop.”

Of course, that’s not the case today.

Nationwide statistics on traffic stop outcomes are hard to find, but experts say they lead to many injuries and deaths each year — particularly among black motorists, who are more likely than their white counterparts to experience violence from police. Police officers, meanwhile, run the risk of being assaulted by motorists or struck by passing cars.

 

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