Robot Dog Patrols Singapore Parks to Encourage Social Distancing amid Coronavirus Pandemic

A robot dog engineered by Boston Dynamics has been deployed to patrol the parks in Singapore and to encourage residents to social distance amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The remote-controlled, four-legged robot named Spot had its first go-around on Friday, walking around the city-state's Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park while politely reminding residents to stay at least 1 meter (3 feet) apart from one another.

In footage shared by The Straits Times, the yellow dog trots around the park and regularly broadcasts a recorded message reminding park visitors to observe social distancing guidelines.

"Let's keep Singapore healthy," Spot says in English. "For your own safety and for those around you, please stand at least one meter apart. Thank you."

The machine is equipped with cameras to help it estimate the number of visitors in the parks, however, officials assure that they cannot track or recognize specific individuals or collect personal data, according to both Business Insider and The Times.

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Spot is currently undergoing a two-week trial before Singapore determines whether it wants to permanently deploy the robot for policing measures.

If the trial proves successful, Singapore's National Parks Board will consider using Spot at the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park in the morning and during evening peak-hours, as well as at other parks such as Jurong Lake Gardens.

The parks board has also deployed 30 drones to monitor park visitor numbers and has another robot, known as O-R3, patrolling the Bedok Reservoir Park.

The robot is a hopeful measure for authorities as its remote control feature allows for less physical park patrols, better-protecting park staff from close contact with visitors, and lowering the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Singapore has been one of the hardest-hit areas in Asia with 23,822 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a Johns Hopkins database. It has strict lockdown measures in place until June 1, including a stay-at-home order excluding essential trips and individual outdoor exercise.

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