Singapore | Jagran News Desk: Singapore has always been criticized for curbing civil rights but now the country has taken the shenanigan a step further. Singapore now has robots patrolling streets to monitor human behaviour.

According to AFP, Singapore has trialled patrol robots that blast warnings at people engaging in "undesirable social behavior", adding to an arsenal of surveillance technology in the tightly controlled city-state that is fuelling privacy concerns.

Singapore is seeing an explosion of tools to track its inhabitants as it already has vast numbers of CCTV cameras to trials of lampposts kitted out with facial recognition tech.

The government's latest surveillance devices are robots on wheels, with seven cameras, that issue warnings to the public and detect "undesirable social behaviour".

Robots are designed to react to smoking in prohibited areas, improperly parking bicycles, and breaching coronavirus social-distancing rules.

During a recent patrol, one of the "Xavier" robots wove its way through a housing estate and stopped in front of a group of elderly residents watching a chess match, reported AFP.

"Please keep one-meter distancing, please keep to five persons per group," a robotic voice blared out, as a camera on top of the machine trained its gaze on them.

During a three-week trial in September, two robots were deployed to patrol the housing estate and a shopping center.

"It reminds me of Robocop," said Frannie Teo, a 34-year-old research assistant, who was walking through the mall, It brings to mind a "dystopian world of robots... I'm just a bit hesitant about that kind of concept,"  repoted AFP.

Digital rights activist Lee Yi Ting said the devices were the latest way Singaporeans were being watched." It all contributes to the sense people... need to watch what they say and what they do in Singapore to a far greater extent than they would in other countries," she told AFP.

But the government defended its use of robots, saying they were not being used to identify or take action against offenders during the tech's trial and were needed to address a labor crunch as the population ages.

"The workforce is actually shrinking," said Ong Ka Hing, from the government agency that developed the Xavier robots, adding they could help reduce the number of officers needed for foot patrols.

Singapore has about 5.5 million people and 90,000 police cameras, a number set to double by 2030, and facial recognition tech -- which helps authorities pick out faces in a crowd -- may be installed on lampposts across the city.

(With AFP Inputs)

Posted By: Ashita Singh