In Tunis, a UGV robot is patrolling the streets during the lockdown

Tunisia’s interior ministry is using the locally developed unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), P-Guard, to monitor the streets of the capital Tunis as part of the government’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic. It is developed by the Tunisian company Enova Robotics to help patrol and enforce the city’s coronavirus lockdown, which is now extended by Tunisia’s president, to prevent the spread of the disease.

The P-Guard robot, which has been seen several times in different neighborhoods of the capital, asks people to “respect the law and enforce it, and not leave homes to limit the spread [of the coronavirus] and to save lives.”

If it sees anyone walking in the largely deserted streets, it approaches them and asks why they are out. They then have to show their IDs and other papers to the robot’s camera, so the officers who control it can check them.

Tunisian P-Guard robot.
Tunisian P-Guard robot. Credit: Enova Robotics

The interior ministry posted a video of this remote-controlled, four-wheeled robot on its official Facebook page. In one video that has been widely shared across social media, a man is confronted by the P-Guard robot and is asked if he knows there is an ongoing lockdown, explains that he wants to buy cigarettes. The robot tells him to carry on, but to be fast and to go straight back home.

The company donated an unspecified number of robots to the Ministry of the Interior. Also, the manufacturer has not revealed the price tag for the P-Guard.

Enova describes the P-Guard as a robust safety robot for applications on different terrains. To carry out its functions, the robot incorporates a series of infrared cameras arranged to cover the entire surrounding environment, an omnidirectional audio acquisition system, a thermal camera, and a sound and light alarm system. The robot incorporates a GPS and a laser telemetry system.

Using its camera and sensors, the P-Guard is able to automatically detect intrusions and negative behaviors and send alerts and images in real-time, said Enova. The P-Guard robot has artificial intelligence, which makes it “completely autonomous,” but it can also be operated remotely.

By the time of writing, Tunisia has officially registered more than 875 cases of new coronavirus, including 38 deaths.

Robotic technology and artificial intelligence (AI) are increasingly being used during these exceptional times. Drones and robots are being used for disinfectant spraying, drones to spy on people in the lockdown, and many more.

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