Singapore deploys 'robo-dog' to make sure people observe social distancing
The spread of COVID-19 has made human-to-human interaction a risky affair. People are repeatedly being advised to follow social distancing measures while being in the public to protect themselves from catching the disease. Now, to make sure that happens, Singapore is using a unique 'robo-dog' that tells people to maintain distance between one another. Here's all you need to know about it.
Boston Dynamics' Spot patrolling parks in Singapore
Developed by Boston Dynamics, the robotics company owned by SoftBank, the robo-dog in question is none other than our favorite 'Spot'. The four-legged machine has been working on a range of field jobs lately, and now, it has taken up the daunting task of keeping Singapore safe by patrolling public parks and reminding visitors to follow the much-needed social distancing measures properly.
Two week trial to see Spot's performance
Spot started patrolling the park last weekend as part of a two-week trial by Singapore's National Parks Board (NParks) and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group. The program will see Spot strolling around the city's Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park during off-peak hours and broadcasting pre-recorded messages reminding everyone around to observe social distancing norms.
It will collect data on number of people in park
Along with broadcasting the message, Spot will use its cameras to estimate the number of people roaming in the park at a particular time. However, NParks assures that the data collection would be restricted only to that and the cameras will never be used to collect personal information of people or to identify them using facial recognition technologies.
If successful, Spot could be deployed permanently
If the trial goes smoothly, Spot might get a permanent job to maintain social distancing at the park, and could also be deployed in other regions. The move will reduce the need for humans on patrol duties, which puts them at risk of contracting coronavirus. Notably, Spot can traverse through various terrains and dodge people/obstacles but will be controlled by a remote operator here.
Government's notice to public about Spot's patrolling
Spot has also been helping with other activities
Along with the park duty, Singapore is using Spot to deliver medicines to patients at an isolation facility, while health-care workers in Boston are using the machine to triage potential COVID-19 cases without exposing themselves directly to the patient. Further, Boston Dynamics maintains that the robo-dog will soon become better with more capabilities like collecting body vitals and disinfecting surfaces.