Motorola has received a patent for what is essentially a mobile courthouse. It’s a self-driving vehicle that comes to a scene and facilitates proceedings right on the spot. This should be useful to accelerate turning citations into paid fines, I suppose.
From the fox news article:
“Several video screens are mounted in the passenger compartment that can then provide a live feed form a courthouse, from which a hearing is conducted complete with a public defender and judge, while a virtual assistant explains the process to the suspect. … Fines for minor infractions can be paid on the spot, but if the court decides the accused should be remanded into custody, the vehicle can take them there on its own while the arresting officer who summoned the car goes back to work.”
Now, I’m sure that there are many reactions to have to this, instinctively. Judge Dredd is the pop culture reference for putting the decider of your fate at the scene of a crime. But this isn’t really a judge, jury, and executioner moment. It isn’t being practiced, yet. So, for the moment, it’s best mocked in the forum in which it does exist, namely, as a patent.
And in that way, even putting all kidding about Judge Dredd aside, I think this patent is laughworthy for its shortcomings. Basically, as issued, it is my OWN PERSONAL OPINION, AS AN INDIVIDUAL, AND SPEAKING FOR NO ONE ELSE, that the claim scope is so narrow that it gives a lot of room to practice a similar invention without infringing.
The Fox news article didn’t cite the patent itself. Here’s the link to a copy of the patent document on Google Patents.:
Here is the first claim:
- A communication system, comprising:a self-driving vehicle within which to detain a detainee by a law enforcement officer;a plurality of interface devices located within the self-driving vehicle, the plurality of interface devices configured to acquire input pertaining to the detainee within the self-driving vehicle and an infraction associated with the detainee while the law enforcement officer remains in the field; andan electronic processor located within the self-driving vehicle, the electronic processor programmed to receive the acquired input pertaining to the detainee and the infraction, and the electronic processor enabling mobile law enforcement processes and proceedings via the plurality of interface devices located within the self-driving vehicle, the mobile law enforcement processes and proceedings providing both a virtual assistant to the detainee along with an interface to an on-call, remote judge and attorney for real-time mobile adjudication of the detainee within the self-driving vehicle and further providing delivery of the detainee to an approved location determined by the mobile law enforcement processes and proceedings”
[well, WordPress butchered that cut-n-paste. I’ll just break it down for you.]
There’s quite a few things that make this patent pretty narrow. Its first claim requires:
- a self-driving vehicle
- as opposed to the vehicle being able to do all of the rest of the limitations, but not be self-driving
- processor IN the vehicle
- as opposed to anywhere outside the vehicle
- PLURALality of interfaces
- as opposed to only one interface
- …by a law enforcement officer…
- as opposed to anyone else putting the detainee into the vehicle.
- …associated with … infraction …
- as opposed to just acquiring input about the detainee (or anyone… in case the manufacturer might have had the opportunity to market a fortune teller booth for a mindreader who wishes to work from their home office but still get that sweet sweet county fair penny) without there being an infraction
- …while the officer remains in the field…
- as opposed to the officer heading off to something other than in-the-field, or as-opposed-to the officer definitely stopping what he’s doing and staying with or -in- the vehicle.
- providing both a virtual assistant to the detainee along with an interface to an on-call, remote judge and attorney
- as opposed to all of that, but without a virtual assistant
- as opposed to all of that, but without an on-call judge
- as opposed to all of that, but without a judge
- as opposed to all of taht, but without an attorney
- as opposed to the assistant being an actual assistant
- as opposed the judge or attorney being in the vehicle or call-able to the vehicle
- and further providing delivery of the detainee to an approved location determined by the mobile law enforcement processes and proceedings”
- as opposed to the vehicle being able to be self-driving in-general, and not necessarily required to take the detainee away from the scene
- as opposed to any location in particular, approved or otherwise
- as opposed to any degree of approval having been provided by someone other than the mobile law enforcement proceedings
From where I sit, doing any of the things in the sub-bullets, instead of the first tier of bulleted limitations, are … outside of the facially protected meaning of that claim.
If I thought this was a brilliant idea (and I don’t), then I would really be tempted to just make sure that my processor was housed in a housing on the roof of the vehicle. Because that isn’t within the vehicle. Or I make sure that it can’t drive the detainee away. Or just go without the digital assistant. I don’t know if you all can remember this, but there are human alternative-path systems that merely use ergonomics to walk you through their use. ATM machines, instruction manuals, choose-your-own-adventure books… How much would it boil Motorola for someone to just strap an iphone to a headrest, if the necessary legislation were to be passed, to just have a 3 way call with a judge and an attorney?
Very very funny.
I work way too hard. How do I get to work for a large corporation and get paid too much to write useless documents?
Don’t get me wrong, though. I’m sure this thing is valid. To exclude people from making that thing… so long as it has multiple interfaces. hahahaha.
I mean… c’mon… If the car is the judge, and not the law enforcement officer, then the entity driving the detainee away is the judiciary, not the bailiff or the detaining officer… It’s a really silly idea. You may all return to your Judge Dredd jokes.