Singapore Xavier patrol robots fuel surveillance state concerns

Occurred: September 2021

A test of 'patrol robots' looking out for 'undesirable social behaviours' during the COVID-19 pandemic fueled concerns about a surveillance state in Singapore.

Singapore government's Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX) announced a three-week test of robots that would scan for 'undesirable social behaviours' at a housing estate and shopping centre in the central Toa Payoh neighbourhood.

These behaviours included the congregation of more than five people, smoking in prohibited areas, illegal hawking, improperly parked bicycles, and riding motorised active mobility devices and motorcycles on footpaths.

The agency said the robots would be used for surveillance and public education during the trial, and would not be used for law enforcement. It went on to argue that robots are needed to address a labour crunch in an ageing society with a smaller workforce.

System 🤖

Documents 📃

Operator: Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX)  
Developer: HTX, A*STAR
Country: Singapore  
Sector: Govt - interior
Purpose: Manage 'undesirable behaviour'
Technology: Computer vision; Facial recognition; Neural network; Robotics
Issue: Privacy; Surveillance
Transparency: