Police trials under way

Scottish team’s AI technology used to trace missing people

Police Scotland are trialling the new system

Ground-breaking technology being developed in Scotland will be used to help find missing and vulnerable people. 

The technology, based on artificial intelligence and complex algorithms, can scan an image and locate a person within seconds at a distance of up to 150 metres.

The system is twice as fast as other state-of-the-art algorithms and its ability to recognise a human is enhanced the more it is used.

It has been developed by a consortium of partners comprising of Thales UK, the University of the West of Scotland, CENSIS and Police Scotland, and is thought to be the first of its kind used by a police force in the UK.

Core AI development work is complete and trials are already under way.

The project is pushing the boundaries of machine learning

– Craig Fleming, CENSIS

Computers with very large amounts of data processing power were previously required to run similar technology, rendering it immobile. However, the specifically designed algorithms developed in this project can be used on a smartphone or tablet connected to an RPAS. 

Although initially being employed in the search for missing and vulnerable people, the technology could potentially be used in a variety of other applications, including monitoring wildlife on land and at sea. 

Inspector Nicholas Whyte, Police Scotland air support unit, said: “The use of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems in an operational policing environment is still a relatively new field and this collaboration presents a unique opportunity for Police Scotland to be involved in the development of new technology which will enhance the service delivered to the people of Scotland.”

Craig Fleming, senior business development manager at CENSIS, said: “The project is pushing the boundaries of machine learning.

“It’s testament to the depth of technical skills and knowledge in Scotland’s academic institutions and businesses that this pioneering technology is being developed here.

“Once commercialised, the system has huge potential in a wide variety of sectors.

“This is another example of how Scotland is becoming hub of exciting developments in the use of AI in imaging, with a range of academic and industry partnerships developing new capabilities and products.”

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