A “Robo-Dog” Is Reminding Singapore to Keep Its Distance

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There’s a new device barking orders at Singapore’s park-goers.

A robotic dog is reminding residents of Singapore to keep their distance from one another while out for their daily exercise.

The four-legged, remote-controlled droid has a polite, female voice that alerts runners and cyclists in one central park to abide by the city-state’s social-distancing regulations. After a two-week trial in a single park, the robodog could join other robots already being used to police Singapore’s green spaces during the nationwide lockdown.

“Let’s keep Singapore healthy,” says SPOT, the English-speaking robodog, as she roams the grass. “For your own safety and for those around you, please stand at least one meter apart. Thank you.”

SPOT’s courteous, soft-spoken inflection is a stark contrast to Singapore’s strict lockdown orders, which can result in hefty fines or even jail time for violators. The city-state of 5.7 million has more than 21,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, one of the highest tallies in Asia. Under current rules, which will last until June 1, residents may not leave their homes for any reason other than essential duties like grocery shopping or a pharmacy visit, and masks must be worn in public at all times. Outdoor exercise is allowed, but only if done alone.

The electronic canine is not the only device working to keep Singapore safe. Another robot, shaped like a tiny car, has been dispatched to a nearby reservoir to remind residents “not to loiter” and that “gatherings are not allowed.”

But unlike a car, SPOT is uniquely capable of crossing rough terrain in parks and gardens on account of her four mobile legs.

In addition to broadcasting messages about the need to socially-distance, SPOT is fitted with cameras and analytic tools to estimate the number of people in the park, information it feeds to Singapore’s central government, though authorities insist that SPOT is not able to track individuals or record personal data. The robodog has also been tried-out at temporary hospitals for delivering medicine to patients.


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