Xavier Robot Snitches on “Unwanted” Public Behavior in Singapore


Singapore is known as a ‘beautiful city’, a title with two different meanings: the first is that it is a pleasant city to live in, while the second refers to its notoriously harsh fine system designed to keep the island nation in impeccable order.

Anyone who has lived or visited Singapore will know that you can easily earn a fine of up to $ 1,000 for activities such as importing or possessing chewing gum, jaywalking, reckless parking for bicycles, smoking. outside designated smoking areas and inappropriate chanting. Even fooling someone into believing that they would be cursed or make divine beings miserable if they didn’t obey you could get you a year in prison.

According to Singapore’s Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX), the beautiful city is now engaged in Robocop law enforcement, causing some residents and visitors to worry.

Schoolchildren chase the robot Xavier, as it patrols a shopping mall in Singapore’s neighborhood for “unwanted social behavior.” (Credit: Reuters / Edgar Su)

Other fines in Singapore include:

  • Spit in the street – $ 300 fine
  • Garbage – fine of $ 300 to $ 1,000
  • Naked at home with curtains open, exposed to public view – $ 2,000 fine
  • Feed the pigeons – fine up to $ 5,000
  • Pet dogs running on people, vehicles or bicycles, passing along a public road – fine of $ 1,000
  • Jaywalking – $ 50 fine
  • Eat or drink in the metro – fine up to $ 500
  • Failure to flush the toilet – $ 150 fine
  • WIFI access theft – up to $ 10,000 or up to 3 years in prison
  • Motorized mobility devices and motorcycles on sidewalks – fine up to $ 10,000 or six months in jail
  • Vandalism – punishment: Bastonade
  • Possession of firecrackers – punishment: Bastonnade
  • Drug possession or trafficking> 20 grams – penalty: death
  • And the list continues!

Xavier Robots

Singapore is testing a pair of robots that patrol public spaces while looking for “unwanted social behavior”. The robots, nicknamed “Xavier,” include 360-degree cameras, allowing them to constantly watch their surroundings for anyone breaking the law.

This 360-degree camera collects data, then feeds and processes it using AI video analysis software to detect and report any unwanted behavior in real time. In addition, robots can relay data to agents on the ground, who can respond when needed. Xavier bots will search for all of the above-mentioned violations and violations of COVID-19 restrictions.

Spitting is prohibited in Singapore.  As with similar bans, these laws are implemented to uphold Singapore's reputation for cleanliness.
Spitting is prohibited in Singapore. As with similar bans, these laws are implemented to uphold Singapore’s reputation for cleanliness. (Credit: Shutterstock)

HTX explained:

Once Xavier detects any of the above, he triggers real-time alerts to the command and control center and displays the appropriate message (depending on the scenario) to educate the public and deter such behavior.

In September, Xavier robots were tested for three weeks at Toa Payoh Central, north of Singapore’s bustling Orchard shopping district, for any unwanted social behavior.

Controversy over robot law enforcement

Robotic AI law enforcement is a growing field filled with controversy, and it’s easy to see why the public would be concerned about the use of robotic law enforcement since it is of a basic element of dystopian fiction. For example, the New York Police Department tested a Spot robot for law enforcement in December 2020. However, it prematurely canceled its $ 94,000 contract with Boston Dynamics due to public backlash.

In May, Singapore also deployed a Boston Dynamics Spot robot to help enforce the COVID-19 restriction in parks, ensuring the public abides by the one-meter social distancing rules. On a lighter note, in 2020, a Spot robot was distributing contactless beers to patrons at a local bar in Seville, Spain.

Singapore has a remarkably low crime rate, which attests to a strong record in implementing strict policies to ensure public safety. However, critics argue that two Xavier robots serve to bolster an authoritarian approach to law enforcement in a country where drug traffickers are on death row.

Xavier robots denounce
The Xavier robot patrols the area while displaying a message “keep a safe distance”. (Credit: Reuters / Edgar Su)

Project manager Micheal Lim believes that while Singapore is safe, unexpected things can happen, and if the robots are there, they can trace it. However, the video below shows how the robot causes unrest on the streets of Singapore, making people feel like they are being questioned and paying attention to what they say and do.