Image Source: Flipboard
Police in Singapore will be aided in their duties by a pair of robots. Far from the armed and terrifying robots cops of popular science fiction, these small machines named Xavier. It is a high-profile demonstration of the act of shifting the burdens of policing from fallible humans to fallible machines with a promise of cost saving in the process.
The Xavier robot is an auto-wheeled vehicle, with a camera align mounted on top. The hands behind the robots are Singapore’s Home Team Science and Technology Agency(HTX), which is tasked with designing technology for national security and public safety.
Xavier’s duties include, the robot will be to traverse a specific popular shopping plaza, looking for undesirable social behaviors like smoking in prohibited area, illegal hawking, unregularly park bicycles within HDB Hub, assembling of more than five people, motorized active mobility devices and motorcycles on footpaths.
Image Source: Popular Science
Once robot detects activity, a Xavier robot will immediately send an alert to a command and control center, where human make an appropriate decision according to situation. In addition, the big tablet fitted in the front of the Xavier robot will display a message to the people who are presumably violating the law to try to educate the public and prevent such behaviors. Two-way communications allow human officers back at the police station to communicate with people through Xavier, though the robot can also play pre-recorded messages.
The robots are built with an arrangement of sensors, and then trained on date about the environment. For example, if detection of activities like smoking or selling goods by shouting, the Xavier robots will film the activity and then process the image with deep convoluted neural networks and software logics matching it to existing data.
Singapore’s police robots appear at least to come packaged inside a public outreach campaign, with the robots themselves capable of displaying explanations for what it is doing. The challenges faced by police of balancing the enforcement of small crimes with routine presence patrols are likely only going to increase, and robots could be part of how police forces meet that burden at a lower cost than hiring people.