Singapore Deploys Street Robots To Surveil People’s Bad Behavior

Singapore Deploys Street Robots To Surveil People’s Bad Behavior

robots behavior

A police robot is deployed along a retail street in Beijing, China, Wednesday, March 6, 2019. The Chinese capital is on high security alert as thousands of government officials gather for their annual Congress this week. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Singapore, ranked one of the safest countries in the world, has deployed two autonomous surveillance robots to detect “bad behavior” such as breaching covid-19 protocols on the streets and in other public spaces.

The patrol robots are fitted with cameras that can detect bad social behavior and trigger real-time alerts to a command-and-control center which then feeds the information to a video analytics system that recognizes a person’s posture and other visual indicators.

The robots are programmed to detect behavior such as breaching covid-19 protocols, illegal hawking, smoking in prohibited areas, illegal street parking and driving scooters on footpaths.

They are equipped with 360-degree vision which can scan in the dark. The robots are also fitted with pre-recorded messages such as “please do not smoke in prohibited areas such as covered walkways,” to educate people on what the government considers bad social behavior.

One of the patrolling robots, named Xavier, was deployed in the busy streets of Toa Payoh, a station in the northern part of the Central Region of Singapore. It is equipped with different kinds of sensors to assist its navigation while avoiding obstructions such as vehicles and pedestrians.


“The deployment of Xavier will support the work of public officers as it will reduce the manpower required for foot patrols and improve operation efficiency,” said Singapore’s Home Team Science and Technology Agency.

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The robots are on a three-week trial and will not be used for law enforcement during the trial, only for education. The goal is to collect data to improve the analytics system and fine-tune irregularities.

The city-state wants to have more than 200,000 police cameras by 2030, more than double the current number of cameras deployed across the Southeast Asian island state.

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Other robots have been deployed in the past few months including Matar, Swan and O-R3 to monitor water quality and promote social distancing messages.

An autonomous robotic surveillance dog named SPOT was used to patrol the most crowded park, Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. SPOT’s job was to remind people to social distance.

The idea behind the robots is to improve efficiency and reduce manpower for police foot patrols, especially for manpower-intensive operations like surveillance of illegal street hawkers, according to the project leader.