In another universe, robot surveillance would mean that androids are in power, leading to the extermination of rebellious, non-compliant human subjects. Fortunately, the real world isn’t half as terrifying, making use of robot technology to help out with safe-distancing measures amid the COVID-19 outbreak, and reducing the need for manpower in Singapore.
Called Spot, the four-limbed innovation will be undergoing a two-week trial at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park starting today (8 May), along the 3km path at the River Plains section during peak hours. A recorded message is set to be broadcasted during that time, reminding visitors to observe safe distancing while exercising. Spot will also be equipped with cameras to keep track of the visiting numbers, but the authorities assured that there’ll be no Orwellian supervision happening – the technology doesn’t allow for facial recognition, and personal data collection.
That’s good, because we certainly don’t want to be hunted down by a relentless cyborg dog like in Black Mirror: Metalhead, which bears a scary resemblance to its real-life, yellow-bodied counterpart. Or the vice-versa, whatever.
Should the trial prove to be successful, more parts of Singapore can expect to see Spot deployed on the ground, such as Jurong Lake Gardens, during the morning and evening peak hours. At least one NParks officer is being assigned to the robot dog during the trial period, which also comes fitted with safety sensors for object and people detection within a one-metre proximity.
It’s times like these where we are reminded of just how fast technology has evolved over the years. Apart from safe-distancing use, Spot is put on trial at the Changi Exhibition Centre community isolation facility as well, where it’s programmed to ferry essential items like medicine to patients.
Singapore has always looked to expand into smart nation territory, and the use of Spot sure checks out.