A 'robodog' is patrolling parks in Singapore to help the government enforce social distancing measures.
The robot - named Spot - began patrolling Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park yesterday (8 May) where it relayed recorded messages reminding the public to observe social distancing rules.
It is also fitted with cameras (perhaps that's why it is called Spot?) with the recordings used to help estimate visitor numbers. It does not track individuals or collect data on people though, so it can not be used to identify those in breach, like a speed camera does.
Spot will be deployed over a 3km stretch in the River Plains section of the park during off-peak hours for a two-week trial period and will be accompanied by at least one National Parks Board (NParks) officer at all times.
If the trial is successful, Spot will be deployed during peak hours and NParks may look at using robots in other parks too.
Government technology agency GovTech has enhanced Spot with various functions such as remote control, 3D-mapping and semi-autonomous operations to facilitate the trial, according to The Straits Times.
The remote control element has the added benefit of enabling the park to be patrolled with minimal manpower and maximum social distancing.
The robot's four legs make it more suitable for park monitoring than wheeled-robots as they, in conjunction with sensors, make it better able to avoid collisions and cover uneven terrain.
They also make it look more dog-like and cute - unless you've seen the Black Mirror episode 'Metalhead' that is, in which case you're likely to see Spot as a sinister harbinger of doom.
This is not the first time robots have been deployed to help fight the spread of coronavirus.
In March, hospitals in China took on special robots to help with the workload amid the outbreak.
Wuhan Tongji Tianyou Hospital, Wuhan Union Hospital and Shanghai Sixth People's Hospital welcomed shipments of robots to help take temperatures, clean up, and deliver meals and medication to patients.
The high-tech hospitals are equipped with 5G, meaning doctors can instantly see stats and recordings made by the robots. Additionally, the machines are also able to self-disinfect after coming into contact with patients, helping to stop the spread of infections.
The robots were donated by tech company CloudMinds in February and were up and running in under a week.
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