- A Spot robot built by Boston Dynamics is exploring a park in Singapore to remind people of social distancing patterns.
- The robot plays a recorded message that follows the rules for interacting in public, including maintaining safe distances.
- Singapore is also using another Spot robot as a drug delivery system for coronavirus patients.
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If there is a rule that everyone should follow to help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, it is social distancing. Staying away from people is the easiest way to keep yourself or others from getting sick. It works, and we've seen the proof in the number of new cases in areas where people really stick to important guidelines.
The Singapore government knows this, too, and is giving residents a friendly reminder in the most incredible way. Instead of putting up 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 spend time in the park for at least two weeks, plays a prerecorded message that reminds everyone to observe the patterns of social distancing and avoid gathering in crowds. The robot is operated remotely 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 on different terrains and can effectively overcome obstacles, making it ideal for operating in public parks and gardens," the statement said. “SPOT is equipped with security sensors to detect objects and people in its path. It has built-in 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 closure measures to prevent people from going anywhere other than the store to eat or work if they have a particularly important job. Here in the United States, many states have closed visits to parks in a measure to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. When parks were reopened in some states, residents flooded green spaces in large numbers, posing a fairly serious public health risk.
Singapore's strategy seems to be to allow its residents to spend time in public spaces like parks, provided they use some common sense and avoid grouping together. The Spot robot will certainly help remind everyone of the rules, and it will surely draw a lot of attention for the fact that it is, well, a robot.
Along with testing in the park, another Spot robot will spend time at Singapore's Changi Exhibition Center, where it will act as a delivery bot for patients.