Policing Singapore with Robots

Robot policing hasn’t worked out that well in the United States, but five public service organizations have gotten together to give a particular kind of policing a go in Singapore.

Small autonomous vehicles are trundling around the city looking for undesirable behavior. Seeing a smoker, for example, the police vehicles  can call out, “Please do not smoke in prohibited areas such as covered walkways.” They’ll take people selling things without a license to task, too. Also those who ride motor scooters in areas where they are forbidden.

Xavier is the robot’s name. It is not the first autonomous machine policing unit used in Singapore. For example, Spot was deployed in parks to remind people to social distance. But Xavier disconnected with the police department.On seeing suspicious activity, such as possible inconsiderate bicycle parking, it can transmit footage to the police deparment. The police can then confirm that Xavier has identified the anti-social behavior correctly and Xavier will scold the miscreant.

Call the humans

Human monitoring means that Xavier will have human back up when needed. If an undesirable behavior requires intervention by a human officer, the police can get right on it. This saves many hours of surveillance.

However, Xavier isn’t in the business of punishing people, aside from telling them to stop their undesirable behavior. Xavier is intended to eb a deterrent to bad behavior.

With cameras that operate well in low light and machine learning about how it looks when someone lights a cigarette or congregates in groups of five or more, Xavier can identify behaviors and ask people to quit doing what they’re doing.

These robots can travel the city autonomously without running into people or vehicles. Right now there are two units, and they will be on a trial run for three weeks. If they work out well, they will reduce the amount of patrolling Singapore’s human police need to do.

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