In addition to the psychological benefits associated with motorcycling, we riders enjoy some exclusive perks on the roadways. From lane sharing to carpool lane access, motorcyclists enjoy special privileges that are off-limits to most car drivers. Parking is another advantage for two wheels, as the smaller vehicle footprint allows riders to squeeze into the tightest of spaces.
However, some resort to parking their motorcycles on the sidewalk. Whether we cite a lack of parking, security concerns, or simple convenience, many of us have incorrectly used walking paths as our personal parking spots. While we generally only receive scoffs from passersby, Singapore is cracking down on sidewalk-parking motorcyclists with the aid of an autonomous police robot.
The adorably named Xavier robot may look approachable, but his objectives are clear and concise. In addition to citing illegal vendors, improperly parked bicycles, smoking in prohibited areas, and group gatherings of more than five people (COVID-19 restrictions), Xavier has been programmed to penalize motorcycles parked on footpaths—with shame.
When the robot detects the following situations, it sends a real-time alert to the police command center. If deemed necessary, Xavier will display messages to the culprit, deterring similar behavior in the future. There’s no word if local officials will expand the robot’s capabilities to ticket-issuing, but Xavier will exclusively rely on guilt tripping violators during the trial period. From September 5-26, 2021, the autonomous bot will patrol the streets of Toa Payoh Central, assisting the police on the beat while reducing the department’s personnel required on foot.
Equipped with numerous sensors, GPS navigation, and a 360-degree camera, Xavier will help ensure that help authorities weed out any “undesirable social behaviors”. The project is a joint effort between five government agencies including the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX), National Environment Agency, Land Transport Authority, Singapore Food Agency, and Housing & Development Board.
“Xavier can potentially augment our enforcement presence and deter errant active mobility behavior on footpaths,” stated Land Transportation Authority Director of Enforcement and Compliance Management Calvin Ng. “It could also provide intelligence on new hotspots or areas where egregious active mobility users have been spotted to help focus our physical enforcement efforts.”
Many of us have improperly used sidewalks as parking spots in the past, but Singaporean authorities, including Xavier, won’t put up with that “undesirable social behavior” much longer.