There are new sheriffs in town in Singapore, and they are unnerving many who live there.
Called “Xavier,” the robots are equipped with seven cameras that enable them to detect “undesirable social behaviour,” for instance if you incorrectly park your bike, if you smoke in an unauthorised area or if social distancing is not being respected.
According to project manager Michael Lim, these machines are a new weapon against insecurity.
“If the robot is around and something happens, the people in the control room will have a trace and will be able to see what happened”, he said.
The robots initially patrolled a housing estate and a shopping centre as part of a 3-week trial in September.
So far, they are dividing public opinion. “I think it’s good from a security perspective, to ensure safety in the society, so if anything happens, you still got the footage to trackback,” Fu Suan Kian, an engineer, told AFP.
“It reminds me of Robocop,” said Frannie Teo, a 34-year-old research assistant, who was walking through the shopping centre. “It brings to mind a dystopian world of robots… I’m just a bit hesitant about that kind of concept,” she added.
Singapore: An overly secure nation?
Singapore is frequently criticised for curbing civil liberties and people are accustomed to tight controls, but there is still growing unease at intrusive tech, according to AFP.
The island of 5.5 million inhabitants has seen an arsenal of surveillance technology installed in the streets across the tightly controlled city-state.