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Singapore using robot to enforce social distance measures

3 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago Friday, May 08 2020 May 8, 2020 May 08, 2020 2:55 PM May 08, 2020 in News
Source: Singapore Times
Image by Gin Tay via Singapore Times

SINGAPORE- A bright yellow robot on four legs will patrol Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park to enforce social distancing measures due to the outbreak of COVID-19 starting May 8, according to Singapore Times.

Named Spot, the robot is meant to assist with distancing people from one another in outdoor public areas such as parks, gardens, and nature reserves managed by National Parks Board (NParks) and parks managed by town councils.

The trial is conducted by NParks and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group.

Spot is to broadcast a recorded message, reminding visitors to practice safe distancing measures.

The robot is equipped with cameras that are enabled by GovTech-developed video analytics, which helps estimate the number of guests in the parks. The cameras are unable to track or recognize specific individuals or collect any personal data, Singapore Times reports.

Spot will patrol nearly two miles of ground in the River Plains portion of the park during off-peak hours as a part of the two-week trial. At least one NParks officer is said to accompany the robot during this time.

If the trial is successful, the parks are to consider using Spot for other parks in the morning and during evening peak-hours.

The robot was originally developed by an American company, Boston Dynamics. Spot was created with four legs rather than with wheels, making it suitable for different terrains.

According to the Singapore Times, the four-legged robot is fitted with safety sensors to detect objects and people within 3 feet to avoid a collision. He also has a remote control, 3D-mapping, and semi-autonomous operations to make the trial run go smoothly.

The remote control is to minimize park patrols and minimize physical contact among staff, safe distancing ambassadors, and park visitors to lower the risk of spreading coronavirus.

In addition to the robot, NParks says they are deploying 30 drones to keep track of 'visitorship' in the parks and nature areas. Also, a 'Safe Distance At Parks' portal allows the public to check the crowd before making their way there.

A Spot robot is also on trial at an isolation facility that houses patients with mild symptoms. The bot is delivering essential items, such as medicine, to patients. 

Smart Nation Singapore is looking to use robots in other COVID-19-related operations.

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