In Singapore there is a new sheriff in town: his name is Xavier and he is a police robot! A little Robocop, a little trolley, the Xavier does not have the appearance that one would expect from a robot-policeman, nor are its functions those of a tin executioner.
Xavier the policeman
Less than two meters high, not bulky and with wheels that allow it to move on urban roads, Xavier mounts several sensors developed for self-driving cars that allow it to avoid any obstacle, both fixed and mobile, such as pedestrians and cars .
In addition, the robot is equipped with cameras that transmit a continuous flow of images to a control room guarded by real police officers to a control center. It is not equipped with the weapons of a real policeman (or like Robocop, the robot-policeman protagonist of the 1987 film of the same name) but thanks to an integrated two-way intercom, it is able to spread a pre-recorded message to anyone who is committing an irregularity .
Xavier will not take to the streets to prevent thefts or to fight crime (even if his precious "eyes" can act as a mobile video surveillance system) but his job will be to identify non-civilized behavior and admonish citizens. Among the irregularities that he will have to report there are all those behaviors that favor the spread of Covid such as gatherings and lack of security measures , as well as scolding those who smoke and park in unsuitable places or use motorcycles and cars in areas reserved for pedestrians.
The pedestrian areas will be the ones where it will be used for the first experiments, in particular the first two specimens will patrol the Toa Payoh Central area for an initial period of three weeks. They will move along a predetermined path (a bit like the robot vacuum cleaners we use in our homes) that will be chosen by the operations center.
The first two prototypes of Xavier were built by HTX and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, and the project was designed by five government agencies in Singapore.
Meanwhile there is no shortage of doubts about this new technology. Particularly in a country like Singapore where the population is subjected to a rather continuous and stringent control by the police forces. In addition, the Singapore government plans to install additional video surveillance systems over the next few months.
Some predecessors of Xavier
It is not the first time that a state or its police have used a robot to monitor the population. A job similar to that of Xavier was Spot, the robot dog of Boston Dynamics, technological prodigy and web star with his hilarious ballets.
Spot was employed in Singapore in the spring of 20 20 to patrol the streets and check that all the anticovid safety rules and interpersonal distancing were respected. In particular, it was used to monitor a park, taking advantage of its incredible movement skills that allow it to tackle even rough terrain without difficulty.
Also in New York in 2020 an experiment had begun which involved a "police version" of Spot, renamed Digidog. Earlier this year, however, the police gave up their contract with Boston Dynamics, preferring to continue with traditional methods.
Who knows if after Xavier and Spot we will be able to get used to surveillance robots even outside Singapore or if we will discover that the policeman is still a job for a human being.
The article Here is Xavier, the robot policeman from Singapore comes from Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .