You might think you’ve stepped into an episode of Black Mirror, but it’s actually just pandemic-era Singapore. A robot dog has been deployed by Singapore authorities to help ensure park-goers are abiding by social distancing measures. The yellow and black remote-controlled robot dog is named SPOT, and on Friday, it was used for the first time in a central park in Singapore.
As it patrolled the park, the dog said in a female voice, “Let’s keep Singapore healthy. For your own safety and those around you, please stand at least one meter apart. Thank you.”
Singapore’s lockdown, in place until June 1, only allows residents to leave their homes for essential trips and outdoor exercise. SPOT’s purpose is to encourage social distancing during those periods of exercise.
According to the government technology and cybersecurity agencies behind SPOT, the robot is safer than using human personnel to police social distancing regulations. “This lowers the risk of exposure to the virus,” authorities said. “Unlike wheeled robots, SPOT works well across different terrains and can navigate obstacles effectively, making it ideal for operation in public parks and gardens.”
In addition to politely reminding people to keep apart, SPOT is also equipped with cameras and analytics tools to estimate the number of people in the park. The camera does, however, track individuals, or record personal data.
SPOT has also been used in the healthcare industry, allowing medical professionals to triage patients remotely, via iPad screen, to reduce their risk of infection.
And SPOT isn’t the only robot policing Singapore’s streets. Another robot, shaped like a small car, has also been deployed at a nearby reservoir, warning visitors against loitering and congregating in large numbers.