Kia and Fujitsu team up on revolutionary police car
Kia Australia and Fujitsu Australia have announced details of a new tie-up that will soon be used by various police jurisdictions around the country.
Police might patrol our roads to ultimately improve safety, but the reality is their operational cars are heavily compromised by on-board equipment and technical hazards.
For example, airbags are often non-functional, air-conditioning vents are blocked and numerous distractions and occupational hazards are posed by myriad screens required throughout the car.
In a presentation in Sydney yesterday, Kia and Fujitsu unveiled Project Koshin – a new venture currently being shopped around to various police departments and jurisdictions in Australia and abroad.
The face of the new project is a Kia Stinger police car similar to those now employed in four Australian states and fitted with all the equipment required for policing, including number plate recognition, sirens, light bars, artificial intelligence and more.
This time, however, those systems are integrated into the Stinger’s current entertainment display, head-up display and other onboard systems, doing away with messy, bulky consoles, copper cable and other operational equipment.
Ian Hamer, from Fujitsu Australia’s Internet of Things and mobility division, says a current highway police car in Australia costs between $60,000 and $80,000 to retrofit with operational equipment, in addition to the price of the car.
The Fujitsu system is targeting a price lower than that, along with considerable weight savings and a reduction in installation time from six to two weeks.
“To build each highway patrol police car requires multiple tenders from numerous individual suppliers for each piece of equipment, from the car itself to Mobile Data Terminal (MDT), number plate recognition technology, In-Car-Video (ICV) and radar,” he said.
“Fujitsu’s enhanced vehicle ecosystem integrates individual components, simplifying the installation and removal of vehicle equipment and bringing greater agility and efficiency to the police force.”
The Stinger police car prototype unveiled to press on Tuesday utilises the car’s existing infotainment screen, which is shared across the Kia range, and is programmed to present information and execute emergency response controls. About the only thing missing is the police communication system and requisite aerials.
The headline feature is a biometric reader integrated within the top of the gearstick. Rather than punching a code into a computer screen, officers will simply be required to place the palm of their hand over the face of the gearstick lever, which reads the individual vein path of an officer to unlock the requisite systems and set up the seat and mirroring positioning to pre-determined settings.
According to officials, the benefits of this set-up include elimination of issues associated with airbag deployment and the blocking of vehicle controls and air-conditioning vents due to the need for built-in personal computers and screens, greater comfort for officers who are in their car for most of their shift, and greater police equipment security and officer safety.
Kia Australia has existing Stinger contracts with the Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australian and Tasmanian police forces for use as highway patrol vehicles. Hypothetically, the system could be rolled out across other Kia models with little difficulty.
“We identified the amount of systems redundancy within the current vehicle fit-out and were excited to work with Fujitsu to push for a higher degree of integration of law enforcement systems within the Stinger,” Hamer said.
“By reducing the amount of physical technology within the car, the vehicle can be modified or serviced by any Kia dealer in Australia, reducing the time previously spent servicing vehicles at specialised facilities.”
While Fujitsu is the ultimate driver of the project, it is utilising suppliers for many of the components. American emergency service specialist Whelen Engineering designed a new modular configuration of the light bar, for example.
“Fujitsu will also integrate the radar into the car’s existing head-up display, removing the dash mounted control box and irritating doppler tone produced when using the radar,” the company says.
“In phase two of this development, artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities will identify a target car’s manufacturer and colour using onboard cameras, and these will also be able to recognise stolen cars in a busy carpark and traffic. The technology will be able to detect if an offender has drawn a weapon and automatically send duress signals.”
Kia and Fujitsu plan to shop the new technology to police forces in Australia and abroad. The initial project is funded by Fujitsu’s Incubator Fund, comprising seven employees.