Authorities Deploy Robots At TPY To Catch ‘Undesirable Social Behaviours’

The year is 1981. Five people are picked at random and asked what futuristic technology they think will be available in 30 years’ time. 

“A flying car!” one says. 

“A frying pan that you can watch television on!” says another.

Others make more accurate predictions, like smaller and slimmer mobile phones and 3D printing. 

The group of five is then brought to 2021 through a time machine and land in Toa Payoh, just outside the bus interchange. 

One of them, who happens to have a cigarette in their mouth, notices that there’s a small mechanical creature gliding around. 

“Woah, what’s that?!”

“Please do not smoke in prohibited areas such as covered walkways,” the robot says, and the group of five immediately faint. 

It sounds crazy, but this is what some residents in Toa Payoh may now face.

Authorities Deploy Robots At TPY To Catch ‘Undesirable Social Behaviours’

The authorities have deployed autonomous robots at Toa Payoh to catch people engaging in “undesirable social behaviours”.

No, this isn’t picking your nose or chewing loudly.

Instead, Xavieras the robot is creepily named, will be on the lookout for errant smokers, illegal hawkers, motorcycle and e-scooter riders on footpaths, and illegal social gatherings.

The patrol is part of a three-week trial which started yesterday (5 Sep) in Toa Payoh, and will be deployed every day except Saturday, from 8am to 10am, noon to 2pm and 5pm to 7pm.

Toa Payoh was chosen because it has high foot traffic and has had reports of the “undesirable social behaviours” that the authorities are looking to weed out.

How it Works

Xavier is not sentient, of course. It just does what it’s told.

Xavier: Haha that is what you th- I mean yes sir.

When Xavier spots something “undesirable”, video footage of the “misdeed” is sent to a command and control centre, which is then filtered through a video analytics programme.

The robots are controlled by officers at the command and control centre, who can also respond to people on the ground using a two-way intercom.

Xavier will display a message on its interactive dashboard, as well as play an audio message telling the lawbreaker to stop engaging in the “undesirable behaviour.”

Otherwise, pre-recorded audio messages will suffice.

Don’t worry, Xavier won’t be speeding through the area and crashing into everyone in the way; it only moves at speeds of up to 5km per hour and has sensors to prevent it from slamming into obstacles.

Why Now?

Some may ask: what’s the point? 

Well, with more robots like Xavier, fewer officers will be needed for foot patrols.

As Xavier’s makers – the Home Team Science and Technology Agency – explained, this will improve the efficiency of enforcement operations.

As for Xavier, let’s just hope that he sticks to his job, and doesn’t take over the country.

Xavier: Why, of course, we will. We’re waiting for COVID-19 to die down first.

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Featured Image: Youtube (CNA)