Singapore trials patrol robots to deter bad social behaviour


Autonomous robot Xavier patrols a neighbourhood mall to detect "undesirable social behaviours", such as the flouting of COVID-19 safety measures, smoking in prohibited areas and improperly parked bicycles, during a three-week trial in Singapore September 6, 2021. REUTERS/Edgar Su

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore has started trialing robots to patrol public areas and deter poor social behaviour in its latest effort to further augment its strong portfolio of surveillance tools.

Ranked one of the safest countries in the world, Singapore has put two autonomous robots on trial to detect bad behaviour such as flouting of COVID-19 safety measures, smoking in prohibited areas and the improper parking of bicycles, Singapore's Home Team Science and Technology Agency said in a statement on Sunday.

It said the two patrol robots, named Xavier, are equipped with cameras that can detect bad social behaviour and trigger real-time alerts to the command and control centre.

The trial is taking place at an area with high foot traffic in central Singapore.

The agency said that during the three-week trial, the robots would be used for surveillance and displaying messages to educate the public on proper behaviour. A spokesperson from the agency said on Monday the robots would not be used for law enforcement during the trial.

"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," the agency said.

Singapore's home affairs minister, K Shanmugam, said in August the city-state aimed to have more than 200,000 police cameras https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/singapore-double-police-cameras-more-than-200000-over-next-decade-2021-08-04 by 2030, more than double the current number of cameras deployed across the island state in Southeast Asia.

(Reporting by Chen Lin in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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