The Robots Will Patrol Singapore’s Streets

By  //  December 15, 2021

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When you think about the future world, what comes to your mind first? Most of us would say flying cars, much-improved technology, aliens, advanced casino online, and even robots on our streets. If you have been thinking about robots roaming our streets, then that future seems to be here.

Singapore has begun testing patrol robots on the streets that warn people against engaging in “undesirable public behaviour”. 

Known as Xavier, these robots are raising privacy concerns, bearing in mind the countless CCTV cameras to the testing of lampposts equipped with facial detection technology. That also includes a three-week period in September where two robots were set out to patrol a shopping centre and a housing estate.

Even though the government officials are pushing towards a tech-driven nation, activists say that the people’s privacy is sacrificed. So, they will not have full control of their data. 

On the other hand, Xavier, the surveillance devices, are simply robots that are on wheels. They have seven cameras and issues warnings to those who are doing any indecent social behaviour.

This can include things like stopping people who are smoking in banned areas, riding bikes on the footpath, parking bikes improperly, and even violating the COVID-19 social-distancing regulations. 

For instance, in one of the patrols, one of the robots found several elderly residents somewhere in a housing estate, watching a chess match. The only problem was that they were not adhering to the coronavirus regulations. So, the robot gazed at the group and reminded them to keep the required distance as well as keep up to five persons per group. 

But is there Anything to Worry About the Xavier Robots?

This is one of the worries most people have regarding these surveillance devices. Some think that the government is using robots to spy on them or obtain their data. Digital rights activists think that these robots are the latest way for them to be watched. 

However, the government said that its Xavier robots were not used to obtain any kind of information from Singaporeans. They will not be used to take any actions on any offenders during their trial. Besides, the robots would be used to address the labour crisis. In reality, the workforce is reducing, thus, the robots could help shrink down the number of police officers wanted for foot patrols. 

The robots are designed with sensors to avoid pedestrians or moving obstacles. They also include seven cameras, including low-light cameras, which can provide 360 degrees videos.

What’s more, they feature a dashboard that shows details of the robot, such as battery levels. In terms of the routes, then the officers will decide this in advance. In case of any incidents on the streets, the officers will solve them through the in-built intercom. 

Nonetheless, one question remains, where will the data gathered by these robots go? This will be streamed to a video analytics system with AI capability. Police officers can then analyse the information and deploy additional resources if needed.