Singapore's Patrol Drone is Now on Active Service

Singapore has been quite busy with its own driverless car endeavors. In fact, the country has quite a number of astonishing projects that might just make vehicles, at least the public ones, totally obsolete.

But more than the country’s own hefty list of self-driving (pun intended) objectives, is the recent development of a brand new ground-based drone courtesy of OTSAW Robotics. Its purpose? to maintain law and order in the streets.

Enforcement Droid Now Online

The O-R3 patrol drone, as it is named, has most of the tech that almost all driverless cars today typically use. There are laser scanners, LiDARs, physical cameras, and thermal detectors. So from a navigation standpoint, it pretty much is what you’d already expect it can do. It does have a significantly smaller form factor though, so it would roll along sidewalks and other places where you could normally travel on foot.

The focus of O-R3 instead goes to its overall design as a patrol and safety drone. There are no machine guns on this drone, but It is designed to passively detect people. It can designate a general identification based on registered data, or on cues in the surrounding area. This makes it technically capable of determining whether a person is an employee or an unknown intruder. This identification feature even extends to its item detection system, allowing it to properly associate stuff, for example identifying if an abandoned bag is a potential threat.

Probably the most intriguing feature of the O-R3 is its ability to launch its very own drones. Yes, a patrol drone sending out drones to do its drone work. More specifically, it deploys an aerial drone in situations where it would be impossible for the main drone to traverse. As demonstrated by the video, it can continue chasing suspects even as they go over obstacles like fences, by launching the aerial drone to maintain the pursuit.

Automated Security, for a Price

Credit via OTSAW Robotics

Of course, probably the biggest perk to the O-R3 as a security detail is that it can be deployed 24/7, practically anytime, anywhere, without worrying about shifts or availability issues. Singapore is holding onto this aspect of the drone to help it play a big part in the country’s attempt to become one of the very first smart device-integrated countries in the world.

To this end, OTSAW Robotics is deploying the O-R3 patrol drone for its clients at the cost of… $10,000 per month? Not exactly cheap, but if we are talking about replacing personnel and work shifts throughout one month, then we could probably assume that it is still economically viable. After all, one of the major driving force for developing automated systems today is that it is typically cheaper than manual labor.

That said, the introduction of price and economics brings another question to this law enforcement robot: will it take over more complex surveillance tasks in the near future? The company has explained that the O-R3 is designed for low-level order enforcement tasks. If that’s the case, then it temporarily throws a wrench to the whole price point of its system. With more advanced features though, its price point would become easier to overlook. It might eventually be far cheaper than real human surveillance agents of any experience level altogether.

Source: OTSAW Robotics

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