Singapore Is Using a Robotic Dog to Enforce Proper Social Distancing During COVID-19

Source: Smithsonian Magazine »

The Singapore government is using a robotic dog called Spot to ensure that walkers, runners, and other park visitors stay at least six feet away from one another. The initiative is part of an ongoing effort to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 by promoting social distancing in public places. Part of a pilot program launched earlier this month, the robo-dog has already been spotted barking orders in Singapore parks.

Developed by Boston Dynamics, a Massachusetts-based engineering and robotics company, Spot is one of the latest—and most creative—tactics being deployed by governments around the world as they begin to ease stay-at-home orders during the global pandemic.

Since May 8, the automated surveillance robot has been patrolling a two-mile stretch of pathway at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, an urban respite located in the heart of Bishan, a highly populated area of the country, as James Vincent reports for the Verge. Using remote navigation, the four-legged, 60-pound robot is equipped with a camera and pre-recorded message that “barks” a warning whenever it comes across someone who isn’t practicing safe distancing.

“Spot will be controlled remotely, reducing the manpower required for park patrols and minimizing physical contact among staff, volunteer safe distancing ambassadors and park visitors. This lowers the risk of exposure to the virus,” according to a press release from the Singapore government. “Spot is fitted with safety sensors to detect objects and people in its path. It has [built-in] algorithms to detect an object or person within one meter of its proximity to avoid collision…

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