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Singapore has deployed robots to patrol public areas

They'll keep an eye out for rule breakers, including those who flout Singapore's COVID-19 safety measures.

Singapore Xavier robot
Singapore Home Team Science and Technology Agency
Mariella Moon
Mariella Moon|@mariella_moon|September 7, 2021 2:50 AM

Singapore is known for having stringent laws and for having surveillance cameras all over the city-state. In the future, it may also deploy robots to keep an eye out for rule breakers — in fact, Singapore has started testing a robot named Xavier, putting a couple of them to work by having them patrol and survey a public area with high foot traffic. Over the next three weeks, the robots will monitor the crowds of Toa Payoh Central to look for what the nation's authorities describe as "undesirable social behaviors." Those bad behaviors include the "congregation of more than five people," which goes against its COVID-19 safety measures.

In addition, the Xavier robots will look for instances of smoking in prohibited areas and illegal hawking. It will patrol the vicinity for improperly parked bicycles and for any mobility device and motorcycle using footpaths and sidewalks, as well. If the robot detects any of those behaviors, it will alert its command center and then display a corresponding message on its screen to educate the public.

The machines are equipped with cameras capable of providing their command center with 360-degree views. They're also capable of capturing images in dim lighting using IR and low-light cameras. Plus, the video they capture will be analyzed by an AI system to look for anything that may require human officers' response. To enable the machines to navigate the city autonomously, they're fitted with sensors that give them the ability to avoid both stationary and moving objects, including pedestrians and vehicles.

Singapore already announced its plans to double the number of its surveillance cameras to 200,000 over the next decade. Officials believe these robots can help augment those surveillance measures further, though, and reduce the need for officers to do physical patrols. 

Singapore has deployed robots to patrol public areas