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Tunisia: RoboCop enforcing confinement

RoboCop enforcing confinement in Tunisia

Robots are now patrolling Tunisian streets to help enforce the nationwide lockdown measures to flatten the steep curb of Covid-19. The maghrebin nation has been under night-time curfew since the 17th of March, with authorities imposing increasingly stricter, and now more innovative, lockdown orders.

 

The robots, deployed by Tunisia’s interior ministry, are well equipped, with 360° infrared and thermal imaging cameras along with sound and light alarm systems. They are proving to be highly effective and can be operated remotely from almost any distance. 

 

Patrolling the streets, the robocops approach suspected lockdown violators, questioning them on the reasons why they are outside, reminding them of the lockdown and even scanning their ID cards. Pre-recorded messages reverberate, a common on translating to: “Respect the law … and stay at home to limit the spread [of the virus] and save human lives.”

 

 

Police have arrested 1,119 people for not abiding to the nighttime curfew in place and 242 for violating lockdown orders in place since March 22, according to the Interior Ministry spokesman Khaled Ayouni.

 

The ‘P Guard’ robots, manufactured by local company ENOVA had initially been intended as surveillance tools, able to operate through either Wifi or 4G at almost any geographic distance from the operator. The robot, built by Sahbani’s Enova Robotics firm, costs anywhere from $100,000 to $140,000 and has been selling mostly overseas to companies for security uses.

 

Now, in addition to serving as autonomous law enforcement, the same company is planning on introducing the robots to hospitals in Tunis, to allow for communication between coronavirus patients  and their relatives, which are unable to visit.