Police robots to be deployed across Singapore; two now patrolling Changi Airport T4

An SPF patrol robots accompanying officers on patrol at Changi Airport Terminal 4 on June 15, 2023. - ST

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Police patrol robots will be progressively deployed across Singapore, after more than five years of trials and smaller-scale roll-outs confirmed their viability.

These robots, each about 1.7m tall, can be used to enforce a cordon or warn bystanders during an incident before other police resources arrive at the scene.

Equipped with cameras, sensors, speakers, a display panel, blinkers and a siren, they are capable of autonomous patrol and can allow the police to communicate directly with the public.

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) on Thursday (June 15) said two of the robots have been deployed as part of police patrol operations since April at Changi Airport Terminal 4, where they serve as additional eyes on the ground.

Police robots were first deployed in public as part of a trial at the Chingay Parade in February 2018.

Since then, they have gone through multiple iterations and names. It was previously known as the Multi-purpose All Terrain Autonomous Robot (Matar) 2.0 and 3.0.

Earlier versions of the patrol robot were deployed at numerous venues, including Marina Bay during festive periods, as well as at foreign worker dormitories during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic in Singapore.

The patrol robot is the latest addition to SPF’s technological arsenal.

The robots at Changi Airport each have an extendable mast that can go up to 2.3m and multiple cameras for a 360-degree field of view, giving officers an unimpeded view of the ground situation from the Airport Police Operations Room.

The robot’s capabilities were showcased during a media demonstration on Thursday at Terminal 4, which simulated a police patrol, with officers walking alongside the robot.

After spotting someone leaving a bag next to a pillar before walking away, the officers approached the man while the robot secured the area. It also played audio messages of the ongoing police operation.

The patrol robots are meant to project additional police presence at the airport terminal, said Superintendent of Police Lim Ke Wei.

Supt Lim, the head of operations at the Airport Police Division, said the robots will help officers make better decisions and better manage incidents.

“The operationalisation of patrol robots at Changi Airport Terminal 4 since April represents a significant milestone in our exploration of robotics in policing,” he added.

“These patrol robots operate autonomously alongside our officers, providing additional eyes on the ground.

“The integration of robotics enhances the operational efficiency and capabilities of our frontline officers, enabling them to be more effective in their duties.”

Changi Airport, including Jewel Changi Airport, has seen a variety of robots introduced, from waste collection to concierge duties, in efforts to leverage technology to operate more efficiently and reduce reliance on manpower.

The Changi Airport Group in 2021 rolled out robotic grass cutters to handle landscaping jobs, while Certis, which provides security services at Changi Airport, trialled a robot traffic cop in 2019, which conducted patrols but did not issue parking fines.

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Singapore , Changi , robots , police


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