It seems like building the Robocop was a really stupid business approach:

  • You can't build them on industrial scale (to put it somewhat insensitively, OCP didn't have a ready supply of highly trained and freshly killed police officers)

    So, Robocop seemed like a prototype that could never have entered production. Total waste of R&D money.

  • And having a police brain (because he already know police procedure) seems not necessary since at the same time OCP could build fully AI robots (from robot chicken, flawed as it was, in Robocop 1, to Ninja Androids in Robocop 3).

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    Easy: the executive sponsoring the Robocop project was too busy snorting coke to notice these flaws. Remember these were the crazy 80s, the age of cocaine and hostile corporate takeovers! – Andres F. Dec 20 '13 at 12:39
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    @AndresF. - no, I don't remember. 80s were too much of a blur for me, for unspecified reasons. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 20 '13 at 12:58
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    In a city as violent as New Detroit, there's unlikely to be a shortage of dead policemen to harvest. Less than a few minutes into the film we see two cops killed during the news brodcast. – Valorum Dec 27 '13 at 11:34
  • You might as well ask why Ferrari has a Formula One team, when the F1 cars are incredibly expensive custom vehicles which will never go on sale to the general public. The answer is that it's done for public relations and promotional purposes, to build up the prestige of the brand. (That, and prizes/advertising revenue from F1 itself. Robocop should count himself lucky OCP didn't sell advertising space on his chassis to the highest bidder.) – Royal Canadian Bandit Jun 26 '14 at 10:56
  • Richard is right, the police is having their "asses handed to them" in the film, they have tons of dead cops if they want them for experiment – MicroMachine May 15 '16 at 7:40

Robocop was their "Plan B". "Plan A" was ED-209. As explained by Johnson (in the script):

When ED209 ran into serious delays the old man ordered a backup plan. Probably to light a fire under Jones' ass. Old Bob here gets the assignment. Nobody in Security Concepts takes it seriously.

Note that part at the end which agrees with your question - initially the Robocop program was not taken seriously.

However, when the ED-209 spectacularly failed during a boardroom meeting, Bob Morton took the initiative:

Old Man: Dick, I'm very disappointed.

Dick Jones: I'm sure it's only a glitch, a temporary setback.

Old Man: You call this a glitch? We're scheduled to begin construction in six months. This "temporary setback" could cost us millions in interest costs alone.

Bob Morton: Not necessarily, sir. You may be aware of the Robocop program designed by myself at Security Concepts as a contingency against just this sort of thing.

Dick Jones: Thank you for your concern. This is something we could...

Old Man: Wait a minute. Dick! Maybe what we need here is a fresh perspective. Tell me about your plan. How long will it take?

Bob Jones: We've restructured the police department and placed prime candidates according to risk factor. I'm confident we can go to prototype within 90 days.

Old Man: Very good. Get your staff together. I'll expect a full presentation in my office in 20 minutes.

Bob Morton: Thank you, sir.

Nevertheless, after only one month on the streets, Bob Morton predicted:

Here at Security Concepts, we're predicting the end of crime in Old Detroit within 40 days. There's a new guy in town. His name's RoboCop.

So, even though he couldn't be mass produced, that wasn't necessary. On his own, Robocop dramatically reduced crime, not least by killing the crime lord Clarence Boddicker and drug baron Sal and shutting down their respective operations.

This also matches one of the themes of the film - American corporations' big, mass-produced machines (the ED-209 and 6000 SUX) versus the underdogs, most notably Alex Murphy / Robocop.

The script link has some errors. I've tried to patch it from memory but there might be a few words wrong.

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The RoboCop was pet project of one the OCP directors. The other robot machine was a pet project of another director. They were all playing corporate politics to get higher up in the OCP organisation. They each wanted their projects to sell to the military - because those contracts would be work heaps more than police contracts. The more they earned for the company the more likely they were to be in place to take over and thus control the conglomerate and thus all the power the company had in society.

These directors obviously had budgets, and if consider the goal - taking over OCP, then the use of those funds to create the RoboCop or the other robot seems like a sensible thing to do. That budget if not spent would probably got to lowering their budget to the subsequent year.

So why a cyborg like RoboCop? Well they could do it on an industrial scale. All they needed were trained soldiers ready to fight. Presumably as soldier got mown down they'd be able to take up places as cyborgs. At the end of the day the military needs people with guns as the number of variables in a battlefield situation would be presumably by much much harder for a robot to process over a human mind. The idea of pre training simply means that the neurological responses in the cyborg would be more optimal.

In general terms I think RoboCop is best seen as satire on power of corporates vs govt and the power politics involved rather than a rather cool shoot em up robot police story.

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The concept of Robocop is not to substitute human police, it is the idea of a super reinforcement for police departments.

Of course they won't be able to enter on an industrial production scale, however, maybe one or two of them could be deployed in almost every big city, that would be a huge business as I can assure you that such a project is not a cheap one, although it's results are out of question. I'm sure every city mayor would like to have one or two of them on their police departments.

Also... he's a prototype. The I+D research is a continual loop where you evolve your product, getting better functionalities with each iteration and cutting down construction costs. With time the cyborg integration would probably be applied to live volunteers, in fact I supose that's the real objective, however you cannot risk human volunteer lives in such a project withour previous tests, usually you use rats, or monkeys, but for this project they needed a human-like system to build.

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  • The second paragraph has interesting ideas, but are they backed up by anything in-universe? Thanks – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 20 '13 at 12:58
  • Comments about I+D are backed by real life. And about the idea of being able to later create cyborgs from alive humans, I think that on Robocop3 there were alive human cyborgs from Japan, so it's feasible to think that in-universe is possible to reach such technology. – Bardo Dec 20 '13 at 13:00
  • I meant the "With time the cyborg integration would probably be applied to live volunteers" part. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 20 '13 at 13:01

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