Singaporeans React to Deployment of Autonomous Patrol Robots
In what sounds like a scene straight out of a movie, the Singapore government on Sunday, 5 September, deployed autonomous robots to patrol Toa Payoh HDB Hub and identify people exhibiting "undesirable social behaviour" as part of a three-week trial.
According to The Straits Times, the robots are equipped with a 360-degree field of vision and can alert public officers in real-time to offences, such as smoking in prohibited areas, improper parking of bicycles and riding motorcycles on footpaths, among others.
The three-week trial is being conducted by the five public agencies involved: the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX), National Environment Agency, Land Transport Authority (LTA), Singapore Food Agency and the Housing Board.
The five agencies said that the robot, named Xavier, is meant to improve operational efficiency and reduce manpower needs for foot patrols.
Not all Singaporeans, however, are convinced that robots are necessary for the job, taking to the internet to share their thoughts and feelings about the deployment. Some voiced their dismay by criticising how having autonomous robots patrol the city steers Singapore towards a dystopian future.
Meanwhile, others poked fun at the idea of robots replacing human police officers in catching and stopping illegal activity.
The Xavier robots will be deployed along two routes in Toa Payoh, each 1KM to 1.5KM long, every day except Saturday. During this trial period, they will be used for education and deterrence rather than enforcement. Authorities said the goal is to be able to collect data to improve the analytics system and the robots' performance.
Written by Kyle Chua
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