Saturday, May 28, 2022

Singapore is testing autonomous robots to catch smokers and other “undesirable social behaviors”

Singapore is testing autonomous ground robots that can move through crowds and detect undesirable social behaviors such as smoking in prohibited areas, illegal hawking, improper bicycle parking, and gathering in groups of more than five people.

When a robot spots an undesirable person, it “will trigger real-time alerts to the command and control centre, and display the appropriate message to educate the public and deter such behaviors” according to a press release from the Singapore Government.

Also from the release:

Lily Ling, SFA’s Director of East Regional Office, said, “The deployment of ground robots will help to augment our surveillance and enforcement resources. For instance, the surveillance of illegal hawkers can be manpower intensive as officers need to be deployed at various areas across the island. The adoption of robotics technology can be used to enhance such operations, and reduce the need for our officers to do physical patrols.” 

Calvin Ng, LTA’s Director of Enforcement and Compliance Management, said, “Xavier can potentially augment our enforcement presence and deter errant active mobility behavior on footpaths. It could also provide intelligence on new hotspots or areas where egregious active mobility users have been spotted to help focus our physical enforcement efforts.”

Some of the technical details about Xavier the Robot:

Autonomous navigation

  • Xavier is fitted with different types of sensors, including safety features, to enable it to navigate autonomously, and avoid stationary and dynamic obstacles such as pedestrians and vehicles along its patrol route configured in advance by public officers. Deploying Xavier will augment the ground operations of public officers.

Video Analytics

  • Xavier is equipped with cameras that can provide 360-degree video feed to the command and control centre. Xavier is also able to capture images and videos in dim light and in the dark with its IR and LED illumination as well as low light cameras. Data captured from Xavier’s cameras are streamed to a video analytics system with artificial intelligence capability developed by HTX’s in-house computer vision engineers. With real-time sensing and analysis, public officers can gain insights on these behaviours more efficiently and effectively, and activate additional resources to respond to on-ground situations when necessary. 

Interactive Dashboard

  • The interactive dashboard developed by HTX and NCS further provides an overview of Xavier’s deployment and health, such as battery and communication status. Public officers can receive real-time information via this dashboard in a command and control centre, and be able to monitor and control multiple robots simultaneously. The interactive dashboard allows officers to remotely respond to incidents on the ground via a two-way intercom or using pre-recorded audio messages.
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