- A Spot robot built by Boston Dynamics is exploring a Singapore park to remind people of social distancing guidelines.
- The robot plays a recorded message that runs down the rules for interacting in public, including maintaining safe distances.
- Singapore is also using another Spot robot as a medicine delivery system for coronavirus patients.
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If there’s one rule we should all be following to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus it’s social distancing. Staying away from people is the easiest way to prevent yourself or others from getting sick. It works, and we’ve seen the proof in the numbers of new cases in areas where people are actually sticking to the important guidelines.
The government of Singapore knows this, too, and it’s giving residents a friendly reminder in the most incredible way. Rather than plastering posters and bulletins on benches and poles in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, officials deployed a Spot robot made by Boston Dynamics.
The robot, which officials explain will be spending time in the park for at least two weeks, plays a pre-recorded message reminding everyone to observe social distancing guidelines and avoid gathering in crowds. The robot is remotely operated and, as officials explain in a press release, it will use its advanced sensor capabilities to avoid becoming a nuisance.
“Unlike wheeled robots, SPOT works well across different terrains and can navigate obstacles effectively, making it ideal for operation in public parks and gardens,” the release explains. “SPOT is fitted with safety sensors to detect objects and people in its path. It has in-built algorithms to detect an object or person within 1 meter of its proximity to avoid [a] collision. SPOT will be accompanied by at least one NParks officer during the trial period.”
Many countries have lockdown measures in place to prevent people from going pretty much anywhere, aside from the store for food or to work if they have a particularly important job. Here in the United States, many states have shut down visitation to parks in a measure to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. When parks have reopened in some states, residents flooded to the green spaces in large numbers, posing a pretty serious risk to public health.
Singapore’s strategy seems to be to allow its residents to spend time in public spaces like parks as long as they use some common sense and avoid bunching up. The Spot robot will certainly help remind everyone of the rules, and it’ll surely draw a lot of attention based on the fact that it’s, well, a robot.
Along with the trial in the park, another Spot robot will be spending time at Singapore’s Changi Exhibition Centre where it will act as a delivery bot for patients.