Spot, the robot dog, is equipped with cameras and sensors to help it estimate the number of visitors and reduce the number of park patrons amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "For your own safety and for those around you, please stand at least one metre apart. Thank you," Spot says as it patrols Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park in Singapore as part of a two-week trial. The government says its cameras will not be able to track specific individuals and no personal data will be collected. Singapore, an island nation of approximately 5.7 million people, is grappling with one of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases in Asia.
In early November, we spent a very nice day and a half in Singapore, subject of a Dec. 18 article by Rosemary McClure ["A Storied Sling"]. Singapore is probably too far to visit just as a destination itself, but it is a wonderful gateway to other parts of Asia and worth a day or two on the way to Thailand, Vietnam or Laos. We highly recommend the National Museum of Singapore to learn about the history of this remarkable city-state, the Asian Civilisations Museum for the exhibit of thousands of pieces of pottery recovered from an ancient shipwreck, and especially the the National Orchid Garden inside the Singapore Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Singapore rapid transit system is also a marvel: clean, quiet, efficient and a bargain, with a two-day pass for 28 Singapore dollars, about $20. On the advice of one of our sons, we skipped the Singapore Sling (even though we did stay at Raffles Hotel, its home), choosing instead the local Tiger beer or gin and tonic.
Robots and drones equipped with infrared cameras could patrol holiday destinations and enforce social distancing rules under new EU plans to save the summer break. European Commission tourism proposals imaging'artificial intelligence and robotics [to] underpin public health measures', alongside infection tracing mobile apps. Automatons could appear in places like airports, beaches, resorts and restaurants to make sure that people keep at least 5 feet (1.5 metres) away from each other. On-board infrared cameras could allow the robots to measure people's temperatures from a distance and identify people with a fever that need to self-isolate. The plans come after Singapore employed a Boston Dynamics Spot robot to roam parks, broadcasting a message reminding pedestrians to keep their distance.