Roaming 'robodog' to promote safe distancing at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park

Roaming 'robodog' to promote safe distancing at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park

Bishan-Ang Mo Kio SPOT the dog
A man jogs past SPOT at Bishan-Ang Moh Kio Park in Singapore on May 8, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Far from barking its orders, a robot dog at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park politely asks joggers and cyclists to stay apart and keep to safe distancing measures.

"Let's keep Singapore healthy," the yellow and black robodog named SPOT said in English as it roamed around. 

"For your own safety and for those around you, please stand at least one metre apart. Thank you," it added, in a softly-spoken female voice.

It is part of two-week pilot trial that started on Friday (May 8), conducted by the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group.

SPOT will be deployed along a 3km stretch in the River Plains section of the park during off-peak hours. 

IN PICTURES: Safe distancing in Singapore

Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Singapore
The four-legged robot dog is seen in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio park. (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)

As well as broadcasting messages reminding visitors of social distancing measures, SPOT is fitted with cameras and analytics tools to estimate the number of people in the park. These cameras will not be able to track or recognise specific individuals, and no personal data will be collected, said the authorities.

The robot will be controlled remotely, reducing the manpower required for park patrols and minimising physical contact among staff members, volunteer safe distancing ambassadors and park visitors.

"This lowers the risk of exposure to the virus. Unlike wheeled robots, SPOT works well across different terrains and can navigate obstacles effectively, making it ideal for operation in public parks and gardens," the authorities said. 

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Outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Singapore
A four-legged robot dog called SPOT patrols Bishan-Ang Mo Kio park on May 8, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)

During the trial, the remote-controlled, four-legged machine built by Boston Dynamics will be accompanied by at least one NParks officer. 

Should the pilot prove successful, NParks will consider deploying the robot during the morning and evening peak hours, and also study plans to send SPOT to other parks such as Jurong Lake Gardens. 

SPOT is also being trialled at the a COVID-19 community isolation facility at Changi Exhibition Centre, to deliver essential items such as medicine to patients.

READ: Safe distancing on public transport to 'largely remain in place' after COVID-19 circuit breaker ends

SPOT the robodog
A man jogs behind SPOT at Bishan-Ang Moh Kio Park in Singapore on May 8, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

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Source: Reuters/CNA/zl