Police robots patrol Singapore airport

(CNN) — At over 2 meters tall when fully extended and with 360 degree vision, they are formidable enough to make any offender think twice.

But they are not Robocop.

These are the two robots that the Singapore police introduced to patrol Changi Airport after more than five years of testing. And these are just the first such robots that the body plans to deploy across the Southeast Asian city-state to “increase the number of frontline officers” in the coming years.

The robots patrol alongside Singapore’s frontline police and serve as additional eyes on the ground. (Credit: Ryan Quek/Singapore Police)

The robots, which have been patrolling the airport since April, are intended to “project an additional police presence” and serve as “eyes on the ground”, police say, describing them as the latest addition to their “technological arsenal “.

And they are not a mere pantomime. In the event of an incident, the robots can cordon off the area and warn passers-by with their flashing lights, sirens and loudspeakers, while waiting for the arrival of human agents. Citizens can communicate directly with the police by pressing a button on the front of the robots.

Singapore police announced on Friday the “gradual deployment” of more robots across the city-state.

“The integration of robotics improves the operational efficiency and capabilities of our frontline officers, allowing them to be more effective in their duties,” said Airport Police Superintendent and Chief of Operations Lim. Ke Wei.

Each robot has built-in speakers that play audio messages and a rear LCD panel that displays visual messages. They are approximately 1.7 meters high, but have extendable masts that allow them to reach 2.3 meters.

They are also equipped with multiple cameras that give them a 360-degree view, allowing airport police to have “a clear view” for “better incident management”, he added.

Singapore police plan to deploy patrol robots across the island to increase operations.  (Credit: Ryan Quek/Singapore Police)

Singapore police plan to deploy patrol robots across the island to increase operations. (Credit: Ryan Quek/Singapore Police)

They are the newest robots used in civic tasks in this technological nation of more than 5 million people.

Earlier versions of the robots were deployed in public parades in 2018 and 2022.

During the coronavirus pandemic, robot dogs have been used to enforce strict physical distancing, while cleaning robots are commonplace in subway stations across the country, as well as at the airport.

Spot, the robot dog to maintain physical distance 0:35

For their part, transport managers are convinced that commercial flying taxis can become a reality in just two years.

But even in a country where robots are relatively common, they can take some getting used to.

American traveler Samwell Swant gasped as he walked through Terminal 4 to catch a flight to Vietnam.

“It was a spectacle, like something out of a movie or Black Mirror,” Swant told CNN. “It was hard not to notice.”

Curious, he cautiously moved closer to take a closer look, only to see it light up as a camera extended.

“ChatGPT…AI music…robots…Soon machines will take over the world and these security bots seem to mean business,” he said.

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