Singapore now has robots on the streets that can perform safety-related surveillance on citizens. A patrol robot named Xavier has been programmed to roam the streets of Singapore and detect “bad social behavior”. The robot moves on a regular path among people. They are equipped with seven cameras to detect any abnormalities in normal social behavior. If someone parks the vehicle by mistake or someone lights a cigarette in an unauthorized area, undesired behavior can be detected. The bot will also monitor whether people are following proper social distancing protocols.
In a video released by Euronews, the robot looks like a precision and compact metal structure on wheels, with a raised neck almost reaching the height of a human. However, it is very powerful because it can collect visual information through seven different cameras. The robot also displays information about keeping the city safe and maintaining social distance.
Project manager Michael Lim said that these machines are a new security weapon. In a video interview, he said: “Although Singapore is safe, there may be things that we did not expect. Therefore, if the robot is nearby and something happens, the people in the control room will have a record. You can see what happened.”
These robots were initially tested for three weeks in September. They were tested in a residential area and a shopping center.
This is not the first time Singapore has tried to track its residents with robots and fast-developing technology. It installed 90,000 police cameras on lamp posts. These cameras have facial recognition technology that enables authorities to track individuals.
Although these cameras and police robots are designed to monitor anti-social behavior, their continuous surveillance has also raised questions about human rights.
Considering the level of surveillance of citizens, digital rights activist Li Yiting considers this to be “dystopia.” However, the activist believes that “it has been normalized and people have not responded much to it”, which is even more dystopian.