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Singapore pilots robot dog to assist safe distancing in parks

The four-legged robot called Spot, which is fitted with safety sensors to detect objects and people in its path, is being deployed over a 3km stretch in a section of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.

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 A recorded message is broadcast from four-legged Spot. Picture: GovTech Singapore
A recorded message is broadcast from four-legged Spot. Picture: GovTech Singapore

Singapore is piloting a robot dog to help promote safe distancing in parks, gardens and nature reserves to lower the risk of exposure to coronavirus.

 

Spot, which is controlled remotely and fitted with safety sensors that detect objects and people in its path, is being deployed over a 3km stretch in the River Plains section of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park for two weeks during off-peak hours.

 

The four-legged robot is also being trialled at the Changi Exhibition Centre community isolation facility to deliver essential items such as medicine to patients.

 

Safe distancing

 

The trial is being run by the National Parks Board (NParks) and the Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (comprising Smart Nation and Digital Government Office and Government Technology Agency).

 

A recorded message is broadcast from Spot to remind park visitors to observe safe distancing measures. It will also be fitted with cameras – enabled with GovTech-developed video analytics – to estimate the number of visitors in parks. These cameras will not be able to track and/or recognise specific individuals, and no personal data will be collected.

 

Unlike wheeled robots, Spot works well across different terrains and can navigate obstacles effectively, making it ideal for operation in public parks and gardens. It has in-built algorithms to detect an object or person within one metre of its proximity to avoid collision. It will be accompanied by at least one NParks officer during the trial period.

Smart Nation and Digital Government Group will also explore the use of Spot to support other Covid-19 related operations across agencies.

If successful, NParks will consider deploying the robot at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park during the morning and evening peak hours. NParks will study plans to deploy Spot to other parks such as the Jurong Lake Gardens.

 

The robot is also currently being trialled at the Changi Exhibition Centre community isolation facility to deliver essential items such as medicine to patients. Smart Nation and Digital Government Group (SNDGG) will also explore the use of Spot to support other Covid-19 related operations across agencies.

Spot on duty in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. Picture: GovTech Singapore
Spot on duty in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. Picture: GovTech Singapore

NParks has also developed The Safe [email protected] portal to allow the public to look for a park near them and check visitor levels before leaving their house.

 

A total of 30 drones are being deployed in selected parks and nature areas 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.

 

Continued use of tech

 

Technology has played a key role in tackling coronavirus in Singapore and will continue to do so as it implements its Safe Management Measures that are required in the workplace before selected economic activities can resume after what it calls its “circuit breaker” period.

 

For example, organsations must use the SafeEntry visitor management system developed by GovTech to record the entry and exit of all staff and visitors entering the workplace.

 

SafeEntry is a national digital check-in system that logs the name, NRIC and mobile number of individuals visiting hotspots and venues providing essential services, as well as the information of people working at places providing essential services.

 

All employees should also download and activate the TraceTogether app, to help the Ministry of Health quickly identify potential close contacts of Covid-19 patients and reduce transmission.

 

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