Intel CEO: Autonomous Cars Will Use Cameras to Fight Crime

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Crime-fighting autonomous cars are going to take to the streets and track down kidnappers. That’s according to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, who claimed that the cameras employed in the new generation of cars could lead to a giant data trove that could assist authorities.

“I always say that the cars are going to be out there looking, so the next time an Amber alert comes up and they’re looking for a license plate, the cars should be able to find that license plate quite rapidly,” Krzanich said in an interview with CNBC on Thursday.

There’s a possibility Krzanich’s idea could come to life. Intel recently purchased Mobileye for $15.3 billion, a company working on an autonomous car system. It’s already struck deals with BMW and Volkswagen to get its technology in their cars, and until recently it was supplying Tesla for its Autopilot feature.

Using the camera feed in autonomous cars to identify criminals could pose a privacy risk, though. Krzanich is clear that the system would need to obtain user consent first.

“We’ll have to make sure it’s data that is okay, that people have bought into. Things like hey, we all agree that in order to reduce Amber alerts, this is a good thing,” he said.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich

Getty Images / Ethan Miller

Amber alerts started in 1996, when Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters and authorities teamed up to develop an alert system. The alerts, aimed at warning the public when a child has been abducted, interrupt television, radio, and even work with phones and other wireless devices. Over 800 children have been rescued thanks to the system, but Krzanich’s idea could make it more effective than ever before.

It’s not just autonomous cars set to employ cameras in daily operation. Even semi-autonomous systems like Tesla Autopilot use cameras alongside other sensors, with the car taking the data and using it to drive down the road in limited circumstances. In non-autonomous vehicles, dash cams and rear-view cams help guide drivers and can notify them of dangers.

With the multitude of sensors available in future cars, an extended Amber alert system could help authorities faster than ever, as long as it’s deployed and explained in an effective way.

“We’ll have to put limitations on it. We’ll have to encrypt that data, make sure it’s anonymized so that I can’t tell that it’s John necessarily,” he said. “I think there will be rules and new areas we’ll have to explore, but the amount of social good that can come from that far outweighs those concerns. We just have to deal with them.”

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