Even non-soccer fans know how hooliganism can quickly turn a harmless match into a veritable war zone, full of riots, stabbings, even death. To help keep the peace at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, FIFA has decided to go high-tech by enlisting military robots for security.
iRobot recently announced that it will outfit Brazil with 30 PackBot robots, units similar to those that have been deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq and inside Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Each PackBot is camera-equipped and remotely controlled to allow operators to examine suspicious objects and explore threatening environments. The robots will work in tandem with thousands of soldiers who will be patrolling the 12 host cities in Brazil.
The $7.2 million in contracts include maintenance, spares and associated equipment. Each PackBot 510 unit typically costs around $100,000 to $200,000.
Brazilian police will also be donning some high-tech gear. Officers will sport facial-recognition camera glasses that claim to capture 400 facial images per second, then archive each face in a database that stores up to 13 million faces.
In their attempt to make “one of the most protected sports events in history,” Brazil invested $900 million to boost its security forces for the 2014 World Cup. Besides purchasing surveillance equipment and helicopters, the country reportedly acquired four Israeli-made drones to provide additional security at the FIFA Confederation next month.
Think militarized, camera-equipped robots and facial recognition glasses are a bit much for such a gentlemanly sport as soccer, nay futbol? Well, spend some time reading “Among the Thugs” as author Bill Buford submerges himself in the English hooligan scene during the 1980s and you might question whether a fleet of robots is enough to contain the violence.