Since announcing the commercial availability of Spot, Boston Dynamics has presented a range of different gigs for the robot, from construction to telepresence. Last month, the company announced it was partnering with local hospitals interested in using the platform to perform remote visits for COVID-19 victims.
Turns out the global pandemic has spurred all manner of surprise innovation for the technically impressive quadrupedal robot. Among the more unexpected is Singapore’s use of Spot to patrol parks and encourage social distancing among citizens. The pilot program starts today and will run for two weeks during off-peak hours.
A remote operator will control the robot (social distancing, mind) as it patrols around two miles of Singapore’s Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. A recorded message encouraging social distancing will be broadcast from the robot. There are cameras on board, too, used to monitor gatherings, but the government insists that they won’t be using face tracking or collected personal data.
“Spot is fitted with safety sensors to detect objects and people in its path,” according to the release. “It has in-built algorithms to detect an object or person within 1 metre of its proximity to avoid collision. SPOT will be accompanied by at least one NParks officer during the trial period." If things go well, the robot will be allowed to patrol during peak hours, as well.
One of the pandemic’s more fascinating knock-on effects to the tech world is an increased interest in robotics and automation. Check out our recent VC survey to see how COVID-19 could shape the future of the industry.