Autonomous car technology has rapidly advanced in recent years. Companies like Waymo, Uber and Apple have all been working on their own versions of this tech but they've mostly been centered around civilian or taxi use.
That said, it seems Ford might be interested in bringing the world of self-driving cars to the US police force. As reported by CNET, Ford was recently granted a patent that describes a fully autonomous police car.
A self-driving police car isn't a particularly innovative idea by itself but what could make Ford's patented idea stand out is its ability to function entirely without a driver.
As the patent's renderings highlight, the autonomous police car could identify a vehicle violating a given traffic law and "establish wireless communication" with its driver. After verifying their identity, the vehicle will then be able to issue either a warning or a ticket, presumably depending on the severity of the violation.
As interesting (and terrifying) as this tech sounds, filing for or even being granted a patent doesn't guarantee that a company will actually use it down the line. In many cases, it's simply a way to protect an idea from being used by a competitor.
Furthermore, even if Ford did intend to use this patent, the sort of tech it references would involve both advanced self-driving vehicle technology and artificial intelligence. As neither have been deemed fully capable of replacing humans just yet, don't expect to see a fleet of robot cars cruising around town anytime soon.