Their Spot robot dog is being used to remind park visitors about social distancing measures to keep them safe.
In a break from the government’s stay-at-home advice during the coronavirus pandemic, Singapore citizens are now being encouraged to go outside and exercise in their nearby parks.
Visitors to the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park are also now able to experience the unusual (and slightly surreal) sight
of an important message being delivered by a yellow Boston Dynamics Spot robot dog.
In Off-peak hours, Spot will walk through the scenic river park to relay a message urging park-goers to maintain proper social space.
The National Parks Board of Singapore (NParks) and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group are collaborating on the project, expected to run for two weeks.
Spot will be managed by a remote operator, and the robot sensors will help avoid bumping into obstacles or people in its path as it wanders around its designated patrol area.
During the test period, it will have a human minder for the company at NParks.
Spot has cameras which are also used to measure visitor numbers at the park.
“These cameras won’t be able to track and/or recognise specific individuals, and there will
be no collection of personal data,” GovTech agency Singapore said in a release Friday.
Singapore was praised for its successful early response to COVID-19,
though more stringent lockdown measures were later introduced in April.
Singapore is also using a Spot robot in a group isolation facility to distribute medication and other necessary things to patients, so that healthcare workers are physically isolated from biohazards. Until a vaccine is released, Sars-CoV2 is, after all, an invisible, pervasive threat.
Boston Dynamics’ robot-dog also worked as a telemedicine provider in Boston to securely liaise medical staff with patients in need of health assessments.
We’re now living in the future.
Spot is showing just one of the many ways in which robots are being put to work to help with the pandemic response.
Robot assistants enforced lockdown rules in Tunisia, stood in for graduating Japanese university students and staffed a smart hospital in China.
If the trial in Singapore goes well, Spot could get more work during peak hours.
The system can be extended to other locations as well.
When an eyecatching robot dog tells you to keep your distance, it’s hard not to listen.