Robot dog, anti-epidemic remote control car in Singapore

SPOT dog is deployed in a park in Singapore. Photo: GovTech Singapore.
SPOT dog is deployed in a park in Singapore. Photo: GovTech Singapore.

Singapore is applying a number of scientific and technical measures, including contactless technology, against Covid-19. This may be a future trend.

In the past few days, Singaporeans running or biking at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park will probably see a 4-legged robot shaped like a dog walking around to remind people to follow the measures to keep safe distance.

However, instead of barking, this robotic dog will politely remind everyone in a soft female voice. “Let’s keep Singapore healthy,” the yellow and black robot dog announced as it walked around.

“For your safety and the safety of those around you, stay at least a meter away. Thank you, ”this robot reminded the people.

The dog is part of a two-week pilot program that began on May 8, conducted by the National Parks Commission (NParks) and the National Intelligence Group and the Digital Government (SNDGO). .

The robotic dog, named SPOT, is being deployed along a 3-kilometer stretch in the riverside area of ​​Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park during rush hour, according to Channel NewsAsia. Even when the epidemic ends, dogs like SPOT may be a sign of the future of life in Singapore will shift towards helping people reduce physical interaction with each other.

Application of science and technology to epidemic control

O-R3 has been deployed as a "social distance ambassador" in Singapore since April 23. Photo: Today.
O-R3 has been deployed as a “social distance ambassador” in Singapore since April 23. Photo: Today.

The deployment of the SPOT robot dog is one of the efforts to apply science and technology to control the epidemic and ensure people follow the recommendations of Singapore.

The Singapore Government is building digital infrastructure and technical capabilities to underpin the Smart Country. Technological measures against this country are also based on this.

Singapore has developed modern and accessible Covid-19 portals such as FluGoWhere that provides information about medical facilities and MaskGoWhere to guide Singaporeans to receive masks.

In addition, Singapore also uses the SafeEntry applications to register when users enter public places, shops or take taxis and TraceTogether to support the implementation of social distress measures and tracking people. had contact with Covid-19 patient.

Returning to the dog in the park, in addition to sending a message reminding visitors about social distance measures, SPOT is equipped with cameras and analytical tools to estimate the number of people in the park. However, these cameras will not be able to track or identify specific individuals. The robot also does not collect visitors’ personal data, authorities said.

The SPOT robot will be controlled remotely. This helps reduce the amount of manpower required for patrolling in the park and minimizes close contact between employees, volunteers who serve as ambassadors for the program to keep a safe distance and visitors to the park.

“This reduces the risk of exposure to viruses. Unlike other wheeled robots, SPOT works well on different terrains and can effectively avoid obstacles. This makes SPOT become Ideal for operating in public parks and gardens, “the authority said.

During the test, at least one NParks officer will accompany the remote-controlled four-legged robot built by Boston Dynamics.

If the pilot is successful, NParks will consider deploying this robot during morning and evening rush hour, and researching plans to bring SPOT to other parks like Jurong Lake Gardens.

This is not the first time SPOT is used. SPOT is also being tested to bring essential items to patients at a Covid-19 isolation facility concentrated at Changi Exhibition Center.

Besides SPOT, another robot is also being deployed at Bedok reservoir. The robot is the new safe-haven ambassador of the Singapore Public Utilities Commission (PUB), the agency responsible for water supply in the island nation.

Named O-R3, this miniature car-like robot has been deployed in the park around the reservoir since April 23. O-R3 is made by Singapore robot maker Otsaw. It also has a 360-degree camera, sensor and video recording capabilities, according to the Strait Times.

“To limit the spread of Covid-19, it is not allowed to gather in this park. Practice practicing safe spacing at all times and do not gather crowds here. To be safe, stay at home”, O -R3 emits the message.

“This robot patrols around the reservoir and broadcasts messages in four different languages. It reminds people not to gather at the park around the reservoir and keep a safe distance, ”PUB said.

O-R3 patrols daily in the mornings and evenings, when park traffic is highest. Similar robots will also be deployed at Pandan and MacRitchie reservoirs in the future.

Contactless technology is a new trend after the pandemic

The electronic guest authentication (EVA) system through face recognition technology can help hotels reduce 70% of the time they have to wait to check in. Photo: Straits Times.
The electronic guest authentication (EVA) system through face recognition technology can help hotels reduce 70% of the time they have to wait to check in. Photo: Straits Times.

Besides using robots to remind people to follow anti-epidemic measures, the Singapore government is very active in using technology to reduce direct interaction between people and people to prevent the virus from spreading more widely.

“Contactless” will also be a new trend of tourism after the Covid-19 pandemic, said Keith Tan, Director General of Singapore Tourism Board (STB). Mr. Tan also said that STB is trying to promote the use of contactless technology in tourism to rebuild tourists’ confidence after anti-epidemic restrictions are relaxed.

The global tourism industry has been badly affected since the Covid-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, STB had predicted that the number of tourists in Singapore would decrease by 25-30% this year. Given the current situation, this number will fall sharply. In March alone, the number of visitors fell 85% over the same period last year.

However, in a broader picture, the quarterly report just published by STB shows good news as 2019 marks the fourth consecutive year of record tourism in Singapore. In the fourth quarter of 2019, the number of international tourists in the island nation reached 4.8 million, an increase of 6.9% over the same period in 2018 and tourism revenue increased by 12.8% to S $ 7.1 billion. .

Mr Tan believes that the new normal state of the tourism industry will focus on contactless transactions such as immigration checkpoints, hotel registrations and payments to reduce physical interaction between people. This is also a technological initiative that STB will implement with tourism businesses in the future.

And as with all businesses, hotels in Singapore have been taking additional measures to become more effective after the pandemic. They used some contactless technology in customer service to attract tourists.

Applying automation and artificial intelligence (AI), hotels have come up with a host of new features to reduce operating costs. Self-check-in or check-in kiosks by phone, chatbot, live booking application, contactless payment, and digital in-room dining services are becoming the new standard. in Singapore.

In addition, the Singapore Tourism Board and the Singapore Hotel Association recently launched the Electronic Guest Authentication System (EVA) through face recognition technology. This technology allows hotels to verify guests faster and makes the check-in process smoother.

Stakeholders expect this technology to reduce check-in time by up to 70% when fully deployed. To date, this technology has been piloted in three hotels in Singapore: Ascott Orchard, Swissotel the Stamford and Grand Park City Hall.

Despite such efforts, STB predicts that the tourism industry will not be able to recover soon due to global travel restrictions, canceled flights and the public remains afraid of travel. However, Mr. Tan believes that the tourism industry will eventually recover due to everyone’s tourism needs. He also said that Singapore intends to loosen essential activities in the early stages of tourism recovery and gradually they will reopen other forms of tourism.