Singapore’s Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX) – which is responsible for designing technology for national security and public safety – is testing the use of autonomous robots to patrol public spaces and monitor for nuisance crimes, such as smoking in prohibited areas, illegal street selling, improperly parking bicycles, motorcycles on footpaths, and people not following COVID safety measures. It’s hoped that the robots will reduce the manpower needed for foot patrols.
The three-week pilot is a joint project involving five public agencies, HTX, the National Environment Agency, the Land Transport Authority, Singapore Food Agency, and Housing & Development Board. The robots – called ‘Xavier’ – will patrol a shopping plaza in a residential town located in the northern part of the Central Region of Singapore. When undesirable social behaviours are detected, they will send real-time alerts to a control center and display messages on a tablet embedded in the front of the Xavier robot to the people who are presumably violating the law to try to “educate the public and deter such behaviors.” The robot can also enable two-way communication allowing human officers back at the control center to communicate with people through the robot.
“The deployment of ground robots will help to augment our surveillance and enforcement resources. For instance, the surveillance of illegal hawkers can be manpower intensive as officers need to be deployed at various areas across the island. The adoption of robotics technology can be used to enhance such operations, and reduce the need for our officers to do physical patrols,” said Lily Ling, SFA’s Director of East Regional Office.