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“If you’re wandering around Singapore anytime soon, take some time to wave hi to your friendly neighborhood snitch bot,” writes Gizmodo:
Singapore’s Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX) will be deploying two robots named “Xavier” that the agency says use cameras with a 360-degree field of vision and analytics software to detect “undesirable social behaviors” in real time.
First reported by Business Insider, the robots are designed to detect activities such as public smoking, violation of pandemic restrictions (i.e., groups of more than five people), and illegally selling goods on the street. Other behaviors the agency said the robots can snitch on include the use of motorized vehicles or motorcycles on pedestrian walkways and “improperly parked bicycles.”
The Xavier robots roll around on a “patrol route pre-configured in advance by public officers,” though they can deviate as necessary to avoid slamming into pedestrians or other obstacles. The plan is for the two robots to relay reports of such activity to a central police hub as well as confront violators directly with warning messages, with the first three weeks of deployment starting on Sept. 5 in Toa Payoh Central.
The three weeks are a “trial period,” reports ZDNet. But they also note that the program includes “an interactive dashboard where public officers can receive real-time information from and be able to monitor and control multiple robots simultaneously.”
One official said in a public statement that “The deployment of ground robots will help to augment our surveillance and enforcement resources.”
ZDNet offers some context:
Seeing robots being used in Singapore is not uncommon. Last year, Singapore deployed Boston Dynamics’ four-legged droids, dubbed Spot, to its parks, garden, and nature reserves to remind people about social distancing. A fleet of Lightstrike robots was then rolled out at one of Singapore’s general hospitals in a bid to thoroughly disinfect hospital rooms of pathogens. More recently in May, the Singapore government launched a one-year trial of using autonomous robots to facilitate on-demand food and grocery deliveries.