SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Far from shouting his orders, a robot dog enlisted by Singapore authorities to help contain coronavirus infections in the city-state politely asks runners and cyclists to stay away.
A four-legged robot dog called SPOT patrols a park while undergoing tests to be deployed as a safe distance ambassador after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore on May 8, 2020. REUTERS / Edgar Su
The four-legged machine, remotely controlled and built by Boston Dynamics, was first deployed in a central park on Friday, as part of a two-week test that could join other robots that police Singapore's green spaces. during a nationwide blockade.
"Let's keep Singapore healthy," said the yellow robot called SPOT in English. “For your own safety and for those around you, stay at least a meter away. Thank you, ”he added in a soft, feminine voice.
Despite the pleasantries, violations of Singapore's strict blocking rules can result in heavy fines and even imprisonment.
The city-state, with 5.7 million inhabitants, has more than 21,000 cases, one of the highest records in Asia, largely due to mass infections among migrant workers living in cramped dormitories in areas little visited by tourists.
According to the rules to apply the blockade until June 1, residents can only leave their homes for essential trips, such as grocery shopping, and must wear a mask at all times in public. Outdoor exercise is allowed, but it must be done alone.
Another robot, in the form of a small car, was implanted in a nearby reservoir to warn visitors "not to be delayed" and that "meetings are not allowed".
The authorities behind the latest trial – government technology and cybersecurity agencies – said in a statement that SPOT could traverse more difficult terrain in parks and gardens.
In addition to transmitting messages reminding visitors of social distance measures, SPOT is equipped with cameras and analysis tools to estimate the number of people in the park.
Authorities said the cameras would not be able to track individuals or record personal data.
SPOT was also recently tested for use in a temporary hospital that provides medication to patients.
Reporting by Edgar Su; Written by John Geddie; Editing by Nick Macfie