Robot security guards are on patrol at Abu Dhabi's largest mall to help keep shoppers safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Two robots equipped with surveillance and thermal cameras roam the floors of Yas Mall every day and night to report live to the operations room.
The sophisticated security team was drafted in to ensure "an extra eye" is cast over the sprawling venue when upholding health and safety measures have never been more important.
“If people are not wearing their masks, they are reported to the control room and are then reminded to put on their masks,” said Yasser Al Marzooqi, head of retail at Aldar Properties, which manages Yas Mall.
The mall machines can also serve as mobile customer care agents.
“If people are lost or want to know more information they can approach the robot, and since it is connected to the control room and has intercom as well, it could interact with customers,” Mr Al Marzooqi said.
Yas Mall has already cut out direct interaction with customer care agents.
Instead, shoppers can find an iPad at the information desk and speak to an agent through video conference.
Mall maps and information screens have also been replaced.
“The idea was to limit the number of human guards,” said Saeed Al Ali, head of security.
“During Covid-19, the robots can serve as thermal cameras to test the temperature of shoppers as they walk to conduct ongoing inspections.
“Also if there are social gatherings [over the permissible number] that the security guards may have not noticed, the robots’ live feed could alert the operations room.”
The pair are fitted with seven cameras each, a face-recognition feature and intercom devices.
The movement of the robots can be remotely controlled from the operations room, or programmed to follow a route through the mall.
They are equipped with sensors to avoid bumping into people and objects.
Introducing the new robots was one of many measures taken by the mall’s management to combat the spread of Covid-19.
The mall also has a security guard with a bodycam, complete with facial recognition software, that transmits to the control room in emergencies.
This feature is useful in emergency cases such as spotting “a suspicious bag, smoke, fires and evacuations”, Mr Al Ali said.
“So they can be dealt with directly, because transmitting information during an emergency is key,” he said.
During Covid-19, the special camera guard is sent to deal with mall-goers whose temperatures were too high after repeated testing.
Such cases are taken to the mall's isolation room and the concerned authorities are summoned, Mr Al Marzooqi said.
Yas Mall has recently received its Go Safe certification from Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism.
Go Safe is a cleanliness and safety programme introduced to the emirate’s hotels and attractions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.