Africa

Tunisia deploys robot responsible for enforcing curfew

A police robot has been deployed to patrol the neighborhoods of the Tunisian capital, Tunis, to ensure that people observe the lockdown required by the authorities, as part of the fight against the coronavirus.

How does the robot work? If it notices that someone is walking in the mostly deserted streets of Tunis, the robot approaches him to ask him why he is outside. Those arrested must then show their identity card and other papers to the robot’s camera so that the officers responsible for controlling the robot can verify them.

This African country is in its second week of lockdown to contain the coronavirus, which has killed 22 people in this North African country. Everyone must stay at home, but people are allowed to go out for medical reasons or to buy necessities. In Tunisia, 574 people infected with Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, are on treatment.

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How does the robot work?

It is not known precisely how many of these surveillance robots manufactured in Tunisia and called PGuards have been deployed by the Ministry of the Interior. The manufacturer, Enova Robotics, told the BBC that it was a confidential matter. He also refused to reveal the price of the robot.

A four-wheel PGuard is equipped with a thermal imaging camera and Lidar technology (light detection and telemetry), which works like radar but uses light instead of radio waves. The Interior Ministry posted a video on Facebook of its futuristic mission to impose the restrictions soon after the lockdown began.

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Some welcomed the change, while others said that the robot “moves too slowly” and is therefore not efficient. But several videos have been posted on social networks, showing people being arrested by a PGuard. In one of the videos, a man asked if he knew about the curfew explains that he wants to buy cigarettes. The robot replied: “Okay, go buy your tobacco, but be quick and go home.”

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