A robodog in Singapore is patrolling a park to enforce physical distancing (PHOTOS)

May 11 2020, 11:37 am

A trial is currently being conducted in the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park in Singapore to monitor physical distancing.

Patrons may now come into contact with a four-legged robodog named SPOT, who is assisting in ensuring that proper distancing protocols are being followed in various parks and nature reserves.

SPOT is equipped with safety sensors that allow it to identify objects and people around it. It also has built-in algorithms to determine an individual or object within one metre of itself to avoid any potential collisions.

The pilot trial began in Bishan-An Mo Kio Park on May 8, conducted in association with the National Parks Board (NParks) of Singapore and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG).

According to a press release from the Government Technology Agency, SPOT is patrolling a 3 km area in the River Plains portion of the park for 14 days outside peak hours.

“A recorded message will be broadcast from SPOT to remind park visitors to observe safe distancing measures,” the release explains. “SPOT will also be fitted with cameras – enabled with GovTech-developed video analytics – to estimate the number of visitors in parks.”

However, the cameras can’t track or recognize specific people, and there will be no collection of personal data.

SPOT is remotely controlled, which serves to reduce the number of workers needed to patrol the park while also decreasing physical contact between workers, “volunteer safe distancing ambassadors,” and visitors to the park.

“This lowers the risk of exposure to the virus,” the release continues. “Unlike wheeled robots, SPOT works well across different terrains and can navigate obstacles effectively, making it ideal for operation in public parks and gardens.”

SPOT will also be accompanied by a minimum of one NParks officer for the duration of the trial.

“Should the trial prove successful, NParks will consider deploying SPOT at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park during the morning and evening peak hours,” the release describes. “NParks will also study plans to deploy SPOT to other parks such as the Jurong Lake Gardens.”

A trial involving SPOT is also being conducted at the Changi Exhibition Centre community isolation facility to transport critical items, including medications, to patients.

“SNDGG will also explore the use of SPOT to support other COVID-19 related operations across agencies,” the release states.

In a Facebook post published by Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Vivian Balakrishnan, he commends the SPOT initiative, stating that it has many benefits.

“Technology plays an instrumental role in our fight against COVID-19, and we are constantly looking for ways to use it to keep Singapore safe.” Balakrishnan’s post states. “If you see SPOT at our parks, say hi, but remember to keep your distance!”

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