13th May 2020, Kathmandu
A robot ‘dog’ in Singapore is enforcing social distancing in Singapore Park. Singapore is trying a new way to get its residents to stay away from each other.
The government of Singapore announced it would start deploying SPOT, a yellow and black canine robot, at one local park.
Boston Dynamics, a US-based engineering and robotics design company designed this four-legged machine.
‘SPOT’ has an in-built camera to monitor how busy Bishan-Ang Moh Kio Park becomes during this pandemic.
It also carries a loudspeaker to broadcast social-distancing messages.
SPOT will start patrolling the area starting this weekend and broadcast a pre-recorded message to visitors to remind them of the importance of social distancing.
SPOT will have cameras that will scan the surroundings and help officials estimate the number of people gathering in parks. However, the cameras will not be able to track and/or recognize specific individuals, and nor will it collect any personal data.
The sole purpose of deploying the robot dog is to maintain and encourage social distancing.
The trial in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park
The government of Singapore is deploying SPOT over a 3 Km stretch in the River Plains section of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park for two weeks during off-peak hours.
SPOT will be controlled remotely to reduce the manpower for park patrols and minimizing physical contact among staff, ambassadors, and park visitors. This lowers the risk of exposure to the virus. Unlike wheeled robots, SPOT works well across different terrains and can navigate obstacles effectively. Thus, it is ideal for operation in public parks and gardens.
SPOT has safety sensors to detect objects and people in its path. It has in-built algorithms to detect an object or person within 1 meter of its proximity to avoid a collision. SPOT will be accompanied by at least one NParks officer during the trial period.
Coronavirus cases spiked!
Singapore’s coronavirus cases spiked from 266 to over 21,707.
How did a country with only one major land border with Malaysia face such an effect?
The answer lies in the overlooked clusters of cases among migrant workers living in cramped dormitories. And, an underestimation of the speed at which those infections could spread through a city where lockdown measures had not been put in place.
We hope that deploying SPOT to the public places help the Singaporean government to stop the spread of the virus further.