Xavier has sensors that allow him to move forward without colliding with pedestrians and vehicles on a patrol route configured in advance by a human. Xavier has cameras that can send video images to a command center. Xavier can capture video in low light and even in the dark, with its infrared and LED lighting. Xavier sends the collected data to an analysis system with artificial intelligence for detection and analysis in real time. Xavier has a dashboard that shows a description of his status. Humans can receive that information, monitor and control multiple Xavier at once, and respond remotely via intercom or recorded audio messages. Xavier is the new robot of the Singapore police, a futuristic city-state, neat, orderly and video-monitored by this automaton that has been running through it for more than a month.
Robots like this there are many: the Robocop from H-Bots Robotics, a start-up based in Hyderabad, India, measures 1.5 meters, has a police hat, and its creator, engineer Jayesh Ranjan, considered it in 2018 What “the beta version of a Smart Policing Robot “; In Silicon Valley, the Knightscope company created a series of robots, the “K”, that record and transmit videos, make facial recognition, have already provided images of 30 license plates involved in infractions and in a Californian shopping center they reduced the number of illicit by 20 to 1.
Another robocop — the HP robocop, also from Knightscope — incorporates a stun gun; the Gobetween robot performs routine checks on some routes in the United States With a camera and a microphone to communicate with drivers, a scanner and a printer to issue tickets, and the Reem robot travels Dubai with his rustic appearance of a 1.70 meter, 100 kilogram mannequin and 15 languages on a hard drive. None of them look, yet, like RoboCop from the 1987 movie — which was a half-human, half-robot cyborg — although it might not be that long.
Singapore may be able to create a perfect police android before anyone else. The second busiest port in the world is one of the four powers known as “asian tigers”, And it is where robotics occupies a central role in public safety, especially since the pandemic began.
What is a police robot for? In Singapore, the Home Office Science and Technology Team-Agency (Home Team Science and Technology Agency, HTX) reports that “the deployment of [el robot] Xavier supports the work of humans, reduces the manpower required for foot patrols and improves the efficiency of operations ”.
“I hope Xavier is well accepted by residents and that everyone will eventually see him as an iconic and friendly neighborhood robot, helping to make our community safe,” said Jaslyn Goh, Lead Engineer at the Center for Specialization in Robotics, Automation and Unmanned Systems (Robotics, Automation and Unmanned Systems Center of Expertise, RAUS) also from the Team-Agency for Science and Technology of the Ministry of the Interior.
“The new era of robots and drones opens up tremendous possibilities “says a statement from the RAUS. “Thanks to these technologies, firefighters have their robotic suits and automatons when they go on missions and better protect citizens and their property. Police officers are supported by robots that can autonomously navigate indoors and outdoors, and are also capable of detecting anomalies in public spaces. Soon, search and rescue drones and robots will be a reality and will help locate and save people trapped in the rubble after a disaster and will also deliver defibrillators in terrain hazardous to humans. These technologies will significantly change the rules of the game for life-saving missions. “
A small crowd, reports a statement from the Singapore Government, was required to create the Xavier robot’s video analysis system: digital video engineers worked on what they call “sensing modules,” while software engineers worked on front panel and robot systems integration that delivers alerts to human operators.
During the process, the team faced the technical challenge of training the robots on the streets of Singapore, which is a small territory where there aren’t as many situations as machines have to learn. In some cases, the team supplemented the images taken from the street with synthetic data generated through 3D models or public data taken from the internet.
The Xavier robot is a successor to a 2016 series called MATAR (Multi-purpose All-Terrain Autonomous Robots: Multipurpose All-Terrain Autonomous Robots). During quarantined 2020, Singapore beefed up its security tools and deployed KILL pieces to assist with foot patrol. Result: KILLS improved operations and reduced officer exposure in areas with high COVID-19 rates.
“The deployment of the MATARs freed the agents from repetitive manual tasks in patrolling and replaced them in risk areas”Said engineer Goh Boon Kiat. “A robot can respond quickly, unlike humans, who first have to put on full personal protective equipment. While we were making some modifications to a rest area, we heard from front-line officers having casual conversations about his family’s concerns for his well-being. Although the robot’s mission may seem simple, the benefits it provides are very real and go beyond protecting our officers – they also protect their loved ones.”.
Now the robot Xavier patrols Singapore attentive to people who smoke in prohibited areas, illegal street vendors, badly parked bicycles, gatherings of more than five people (in accordance with current sanitation measures for the pandemic) and motorcycles in the sidewalks. When it detects any of that, it sends an alert to the command and control center and also displays a message to the offender.
“The deployment of ground-based robots will help increase our security and compliance resources,” said Lily Ling, director of a regional office for the Singapore Food Agency (SFA). And according to Calvin Ng, director of an area of the Land Transport Authority (LTA): “Xavier could provide intelligence on new access points or areas where crimes have been detected ”. In short: with a robot, the police can have information in a more efficient way and respond to situations on the ground faster.
In Singapore, robots are also beginning to be used in the training of police officers. For now, it’s just testing with a remote-controlled, human-like robot on wheels that can also project audio to reflect hits and misses, and realistically simulate the physical engagement between a suspect and a police officer.
But on the other hand, in this city-state there are voices calling for less enthusiasm: Lee Yi Ting, a digital rights activist, believes that technology is the government’s favorite tool for policing Singaporeans. “It all contributes to the feeling that people should care more about what they say and do in Singapore than they would in other countries.”He told AFP. Police robots are beginning to be a reality from the United States to India and their contribution to improving urban life will depend, precisely, on this semantic distinction nothing less: if their presence is perceived as surveillance or as care.
This note is part of the Solutions for Latin America platform, an alliance between INFOBAE and RED / ACCIÓN