Singapore is starting to replace human security guards with robots

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It’s no RoboCop, but this autonomous patrol bot is going to be seen more and more often around Singapore.
Ademco, a local security services company, recently launched a rent-a-robot service, in response to fewer people signing up to work as security guards.

The 1.6m-tall robots are less like China’s egg-shaped robot police, but more like a submarine, with five cameras on its long neck, two front cameras, and four wheels.
The robot can also record licence plates, as well as a 360-degree view of surrounding activities from up to 10 meters (32 feet) away. It’ll also send alerts to a 24-hour manned command center if it detects abnormalities like fire or loud sounds.


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These robots are made by San Francisco-based SMP Robotics. They are designed to withstand Singapore’s tropical climate, high heat, and humidity levels. Ademco is hoping the robots will help offer an additional resource to its roster of human guards.
Companies can spend up to S$8,000 ($5,704) per month for two security guards covering 12-hour shifts, while the robot — which can operate nearly all day (minus charging times) would cost about S$500 ($356) less, estimates TODAY. And unlike humans, these robots do not tire.

“There are also limitations in human beings,” Ademco group managing director, Toby Koh, told Channel NewsAsia.
Security staff patrol seven to eight times every 12 hours, he said. “If I were to do a patrol 10 times a day, at some point, my ability to focus and concentrate, [to] try to identify abnormalities…is going to deteriorate.”
Perhaps more importantly, robot officers won’t suffer from high turnover rates. With the long hours, Singapore is facing a shortage of security guards. In a 2014 report by the Straits Times, it’s estimated that the country needed about 10,000 more guards, and security companies had to look to hiring personnel from Taiwan for armed auxiliary security services.
Patrick Lim, Ademco’s director of group sales and marketing, said another reason for the high turnover is that security guards tend to get put off by some of the more mundane parts of the job over time.
If that can be replaced by machines, leaving the guards do perform more high-value skills, more people could be persuaded to stay on, he said.


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