Singapore is sending robotic dogs into parks to police COVID-19 distancing

Boston Dynamics’ robo-hound Spot has learned a new trick.

Singapore’s National Park Board is testing out a Spot robot in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park. The robot pupper will patrol about 3 kilometers of the park in off-peak hours for two weeks and remind parkgoers of social distancing measures. The Boston Dynamics' robot is essentially a glorified megaphone that is also fitted with cameras to gauge the number of visitors to the park. If the trial proves successful, patrols will also take place during peak hours and eventually, at other parks.

A walk in the park with a surveillance dog — Despite its terrifying stature, Spot’s usefulness during the pandemic continues to grow. Boston Dynamics is working with hospitals to assist with telemedicine calls as well as finding new applications for the robot. The four-legged machine joins numerous other robots working with medical professionals to limit virus transmission and fill workforce gaps.

With the exception of medicine-delivering Spots at Changi Exhibition Centre community isolation facility, Singapore’s use cases seem more aligned with the dystopian perception of Spot and its potential roles with law enforcement. The ensuing terror is offset with fun, public safety reminders like “Washing our hands is fun! Oh, wait... I don’t have any hands.” Well, it’s offset if Spot now possessing the ability to speak doesn’t further fuel your robot dog nightmares.