Wealthy Singapore has long been known as a tightly-run city-state where dissent and disobedience are rare.
While authorities have only had to resort to one 6-week lockdown since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, rigorous testing and tracing as well as public caution has meant even as curbs have been relaxed, the renowned local blend of control and compliance has not.
Even so, the government said on Sunday it would trial the use of robots, codenamed “Xavier,” which are to “patrol and survey a public area with high foot traffic to augment the work of public officers in enhancing public health and safety.”
The 3-week test run has the robocops’ cameras and sensors “providing 360-degree video feed to the command and control centre,” while watching for smoking in “prohibited” places, illegal street hawking, improperly parked bikes and motorbikes mounting footpaths.
There’s a pandemic link, of course, with the robots also to keep an eye out for congregations of more than five people, currently the limit under the ever-changing local pandemic restrictions
Any rule-breaking and Xavier will get into scold mode and relay the “the appropriate message to educate the public and deter such behaviours,” according to the government’s Home Team Science and Technology Agency.
During last year’s April-June lockdown, authorities deployed a robot dog to warn people in public parks to maintain so-called social distancing.