While several French cities have used drones to lecture passers-by who do not respect social distancing protocols, Singapore is already going further. In Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, walkers can find themselves faced with an unusual being: a robot dog.
This drone is remotely piloted by local authorities, in order to remind residents to respect physical distance, as part of the fight against the Covid-19. The announcement is made through a simple speaker. This two-week experiment began on May 8th.
In total, the robots are deployed over a 3 kilometre stretch. They are equipped with cameras responsible for measuring the number of visitors to the park. Teams from the Singapore Government Technology Agency are working on future updates to make robot dogs able to assess safety distance themselves.
Posters have been placed in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, urging walkers not to disturb the machine in its mission. No facial recognition software is integrated, and no personal data is collected, promise the Singaporean authorities.
Developed over several years by Boston Dynamics, these robots (known as Spot) are equipped with numerous sensors in order to anticipate any obstacle and avoid collisions. They are also capable of evolving on many types of land, and available for rental since September 2019. In the United States, they have recently been tested by Massachusetts police for demining missions.
In Singapore, robot dog patrols will be time-limited due to the autonomy of only 90 minutes. Subsequently, the Singapore Technology Agency plans to put into service around 30 robots in different parks, capable of climbing in the heights to better monitor the surroundings.
One of the creepiest and most dystopian things I've seen since the pandemic began: a terrifying camera-equipped remote-controlled robot patrols Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park in Singapore to — for now — warn about social distancing. Look at the fear. Story: https://t.co/12QfT1mcyZ pic.twitter.com/hBGUhmC7N7
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) May 8, 2020