It is no secret that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has greatly affected people’s lives all around the world. Schools being shut down and companies advising their employees to work from home are some of the effects of this global pandemic.
One of the notable things happening at this trying time is the continuous emphasis on “social distancing.” Social distancing is a term used to describe a way of people maintaining a safe distance, usually one metre, between each other. It is highly emphasized as it is critical in reducing and possibly stopping the spread of Coronavirus. It is because of this that Boston Dynamics, a robotics design firm, built a remote-controlled four-legged Robodog known as Spot.
Spot (the Robodog) has been enlisted by the Singaporean authorities to help in curbing the spread of Coronavirus by advising cyclists and joggers to stay apart. The dog conveys the message in a soft feminine voice using the English language. As it goes around you will hear it say things like “For your own safety and those around you, please stand at least one metre apart. Thank you.”
The yellow and black machine is not only programmed to convey messages. Boston Dynamics equipped the Robodog with top-notch cameras and analytics tools that help in estimating the number of people in the park.
However, the presence of a robotic headless dog roaming around has not been without controversy. According to a video posted by “The Straits Times,” the dog is seen to cause a lot of confusion and fear among several park-goers even those who are several metres apart. Basically, park-goers are noted to be recoiling every time the dog passes close to them.
Some people are said to be against the use of the dog due to its capability to take photos and record videos. However, the authorities have addressed people’s concerns stating that the dog does not track or recognize specific individuals. The authorities insist that the dog’s sole purpose is to record the general number of individuals in the park, and that is all it does.
Even with all of this controversy, the dog’s role in sensitizing the public and recording data is mainly geared towards turning the nation’s COVID-19 situation around. With a population of about 5.7 million people, Singapore has recorded 21,000 cases of Coronavirus. This is among one of the highest reported cases in Asia.
According to relevant sources, the numbers in Singapore have spiked due to mass infections among migrant workers who are living in cramped dormitories.
Robodog in Hospitals
Apart from parks, the Robodog has also been deployed in hospitals, particularly the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts. The aim of this is to help the medical practitioners that are on the frontline in the fight against the Coronavirus. With a two-way radio and an iPad strapped to it, the headless Robodog serves as a telemedicine platform provider. Some of the areas it is heavily used are; triage tents and parking lots.
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