In an effort to halt the further spread of COVID-19, Singapore has deployed a robot dog to encourage people in green spaces to keep their distance from each other.
Developed by Boston Dynamics, “Spot” was first assigned at the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park on May 8 for a two-week trial that will evaluate its preparedness to join other robots already patrolling public areas against the coronavirus.
Singapore, a city-state of fewer than six million people, extended a national lockdown to June 1 to bring down its cases of COVID-19, which currently sits at 20,541 (including only active cases and those isolated in community facilities).
Until then, everyone must comply with a number of rules, such as leaving home only for essential trips, wearing a mask in public and exercising outdoors alone.
“Let’s keep Singapore healthy,” Spot said in English with a calm female voice. “For your own safety and for those around you, please stand at least one meter apart. Thank you.”
While the robot does not function to enforce social distancing, violators, under the Infectious Diseases Act, can be fined a maximum of S$10,000 (US$7,060), and be imprisoned for up to six months or both.
Spot is equipped with cameras and sensors that allow 360-degree vision and obstacle avoidance. It can be driven remotely or taught to perform autonomous missions.
“Built to be a rugged and customizable platform, Spot has an industry track record in remote operation and autonomous sensing,” notes Boston Dynamics. “By integrating Spot with software and sensors, the robot can perform tasks in a variety of industries. From documenting construction progress to monitoring remote environments, adding situational awareness, and even performing, Spot can be trusted to get the job done.”
As of 12 p.m. on Monday (local time), the Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed 486 additional cases, 481 of which are work permit holders living in dormitories.
“The number of new cases from the testing of workers with acute respiratory infection symptoms and their contacts remains stable,” the MOH said, according to Channel News Asia. “But the number of daily cases continues to rise as we are also testing the workers who are well and asymptomatic, as part of our process to verify and test the status of every worker. We had started this intensive testing at the purpose-built dormitories, and are now doing so for the factory-converted dormitories.”
Completing the total number of new cases are two work permit holders residing outside dormitories and three cases in the community (two Singaporeans/permanent residents and one with a work pass).