Your childhood fantasy (or fear?) of seeing an officer of the law who is part man/part machine may be coming true soon, thanks to Researchers at Florida International University's Discovery Lab and a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserves. These folks are working to build "telepresence robots," which would patrol the streets while being controlled by disabled police officers and military vets. Let's pause to allow the awesomeness sink in.

Thanks to a press release issued by the university (via CNet), we learn that these robotic coppers (check out the design sketch above) would essentially be remote controlled, with the human operating these wheeled telepresent robots into a variety of situations, from the menial (writing parking tickets) to jobs of the utmost importance (responding to 911 calls). And where would these robots fight crime? New Jersey, of course.

At the head of this initiative is Lieutenant Commander Jeremy Robins, whose dream it is to put disabled vets and officers back into action with this innovative concept (sound familiar 'RoboCop' fans?). The patrol bot prototypes are based on military-grade robots from the Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition, which has lent Robins and Florida International University two of their 'bots for this Urban Warrior Robot program.

Robins said in a statement:

We want to use telebots to give disabled military and police veterans an opportunity to serve in law enforcement. With telebots, a disabled police officer will be capable of performing many, if not most, of the functions of a normal patrol office[r] -- interacting with the community, patrolling, responding to 911 calls.

As CNet points out, it remains to be seen if the telepresence robots would ultimately function with the same directives as their human counterparts (would they actually be able to make arrests?), or if they'd be closer to mobile security cameras. One thing is certain: If this does eventually go into effect, we'll be one step closer to the robot uprising. Your move, creeps.

You can read more about this move toward the future on the Discovery Lab's official site.

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