On Assignment
MATAR: Wheeled Presence on the Ground
Deploying wheeled patrol robots to support COVID-19 operations on the ground.

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GRAPHIC: Home Team News

Since mid-April, the Home Team has been involved in Forward Assurance and Support Team (FAST) duties to support COVID-19 operations at dormitories. However, it isn’t only our Home Team officers who’ve been hard at work on FAST; at one designated dormitory, patrols are conducted round-the-clock by their robotic counterparts.

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MATAR’s capabilities include autonomous navigation and cameras that provide a 360-degree video feed. PHOTOS: SPF

Meet MATAR, or Multi-purpose All-Terrain Autonomous Robot. A collaboration between the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Home Team Science and Technology Agency (HTX), this robotic platform complements officers in conducting foot patrols and projecting Police presence on the ground.

Wheeled Presence
This isn’t the first time MATAR has made an appearance; it has previously been deployed at major events like the National Day Parade and the Marina Bay Countdown. These deployments have helped the HTX team to gather invaluable data on systems reliability and mission effectiveness in order to better support Police operations. 

MATAR’s capabilities include autonomous navigation as well as cameras that provide a 360-degree video feed that is relayed to a Police Command Centre. MATAR can also play audio recordings, allowing officers to disseminate Police-related messages. 

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Engineering expertise: Ong Ka Hing (middle) with his team of fellow engineers from HTX. PHOTOS: Tiffany Tan, SPF

Helping to keep MATAR operating at peak performance is a team of dedicated Home Team engineers. Among them is Ong Ka Hing, Deputy Director, Robotics and Unmanned Systems, HTX. Having joined the Home Team in 2014, he’s helped to sharpen MATAR’s capabilities over successive prototypes and trials. 

“MATAR is fitted with safety sensors so that it can avoid obstacles like pedestrians and vehicles,” explains Ka Hing. “The latest version comes in two variants; the first has an extendable mast with a Pan-Tilt-Zoom camera that allows it to 'see' further from a height of two metres. The second variant is equipped with a tethered drone that can provide aerial views from a height of 30 metres.”

On the Ground
There are currently two MATAR units deployed at the dormitory. SPF officer Inspector (INSP) Teo Wan Ling shared how MATAR has made a difference. “When MATAR is on patrol, it reminds dormitory residents to adhere to safe distancing measures,” she said.

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If dormitory residents fail to observe safe distancing, officers can also utilise MATAR’s speaker function to offer verbal reminders. “This improves efficiency as we can assess a situation over video first before dispatching officers to the scene,” said INSP Teo. 

Another way that MATAR is making an impact is by covering different patrol routes on-site around the clock. Explained INSP Teo: “This helps to reduce fatigue on the part of our officers on patrol.” 

Such positive outcomes hearten Ka Hing and his fellow HTX engineers. “It’s very meaningful to see how our efforts can support officers on the ground,” he said. “This spurs our commitment to developing innovative technologies that enhance the Home Team’s operations.”

The Tech Advantage
For more on robotic capabilities in the Home Team, check out: 
© 2019 Ministry of Home Affairs, Singapore. All Rights Reserved.

  1. by Tiffany Tan
  2. 10 June 2020
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