A shop in Japan has enlisted a robot to ensure customers are wearing masks, and practice social distancing to prevent possible third wave of coronavirus infections.
Robovie, developed by the Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Kyoto, is able to pick out customers who aren’t wearing masks and politely ask them to cover up. It can also intervene when they fail to socially distance while queuing up to pay.
It warns customers when it detects through a camera and 3D laser beam technology that they are not wearing masks or abiding by social distancing rules.
Equipped with pre-loaded information about the shop’s layout, Robovie uses a camera and sensors to observe people’s movements, and lasers to measure the distance between them, according to the Kyodo news agency.
Robovie’s developers, who are behind a host of robotic innovations, hope the experiment will reduce close contact between shoppers and staff, adding that they believe most people will feel less embarrassed by being asked to cover up by a robot than by a fellow human being.
Robovie’s deployment is a trial that started last week and will run at least through the end of the month. It will be extended according to the situation, ATR said.
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With around 120,000 reported coronavirus cases and close to 2,000 deaths, Japan has weathered the pandemic better than many nations, and people are mostly compliant with requests to wear masks.
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