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Tunisia Uses Bots to Enforce Curfews

The country’s interior ministry has sent a police robot to patrol the streets of the capital and enforce a lockdown imposed last month as the country battles the spread of coronavirus. Known as PGuard, the “robocop” is remotely operated and equipped with infrared and thermal imaging cameras, in addition to a sound and light alarm system. In images and a soundtrack posted on the interior ministry’s website, the robot calls out to suspected violators of the lockdown: “What are you doing? Show me your ID. You don’t know there’s a lockdown?” The robot’s Tunisian creator Anis Sahbani said the machine was first produced in 2015 to carry out security patrols. It also operates autonomously through artificial intelligence. The robot, built by Sahbani’s Enova Robotics firm, costs $100,000 – $140,000 and has been selling mostly overseas to companies for security uses. Based in the eastern city of Sousse, the company said it was now planning to deploy another robot in a Tunis hospital to help coronavirus patients communicate with relatives.