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One of the coronavirus pandemic’s more fascinating effects to the tech world is the implementation of robotics and automation during the crisis. Now, the Boston Dynamics’ quadrupedal robot Spot, designed for missions ranging from construction inspection to telepresence and public safety, has been recruited for social distancing missions.
The company has partnered with US hospitals interested in using the platform to perform remote visits for COVID-19 victims.
Spot is a rugged robot that climbs stairs and traverses rough terrain with ease, yet is small enough to use indoors. It can carry payloads and it is equipped with 360° vision and obstacle avoidance capabilities. The robot can be driven remotely or taught routes and actions to perform autonomous missions.
Now, Singapore is using Spot to patrol parks and encourage social distancing among citizens, according to techrunch.com. The pilot program will run for two weeks during off-peak hours. A remote operator will control the robot as it patrols around two miles of Singapore’s Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. A recorded message encouraging social distancing will be broadcast from the robot. There are cameras on board, too, used to monitor gatherings, but the government insists that they won’t be using face tracking or collected personal data.
“Spot is fitted with safety sensors to detect objects and people in its path,” according to the government’s release. “It has in-built algorithms to detect an object or person within 1 metre of its proximity to avoid collision.
A total of 30 drones are also being deployed in selected parks and nature areas in Singapore to provide officers with a high vantage point to obtain visitorship updates quickly, complementing ground observations, as well as give them a better sense of the density of visitors in a specific area.