Apr 05, 2013 (10:04 AM EDT)
Prototype British Police Car Rivals Batmobile

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Robotics Rumble: Teens Fight For Tech Glory
Robotics Rumble: Teens Fight For Tech Glory
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What will the British police car of the future look like? According to a just-concluded technology challenge by police leaders, it will have enough facial recognition and cloud-based connectivity features to put the Batmobile to shame.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) announced that a specially-adapted vehicle from Vauxhall Motors, a U.K. GM brand, has won its 2013 competition to find ways to incorporate modern technology into law enforcement vehicles.

The winning entry, a specially built Astra Sports Tourer, is equipped with an online crime database called Facewatch, an online crime reporting and communications system that uses social media and mobile tools to enable the public and police to work together to beat crime by sharing information and images of suspects. The car is mounted with several high-quality cameras the supplier claims will be able to record activity around the vehicle, with captured images streamed on-the-move and uploaded to the crime database via 3G.

[ What tools of the future does the White House hope to reap from its innovation program? Read White House Seeks Tech Innovation Fellows. ]

The new on-board systems also provide instant feeds of crimes reported through the system as they happen, including images of suspects. Officers also are able to dock their laptops and rugged smart phones inside the car.

"This British-built [vehicle] will help make police officers more efficient," said Dick Ellam, special vehicles manager for Vauxhall. "It becomes their office and allows them to spend more time on the road fighting crime."

Vauxhall, already a strong player in the U.K. police fleet market with 70% of the market, won last year's challenge as well, with an extended-range electric vehicle. To build a car for this year's competition it worked with numerous specialist technology firms, including Daetech Systems, TetraTAB, Airmax Group, Innaxys,Trans-tag, Kelvin Connect, Civica, Videolatitude, Imagebase and Facewatch.

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