Automated Social Distancing Enforcement

Spot, the Boston Dynamics robotic dog, has a new job in the pandemic: enforcing social distancing rules. In Singapore, Spot roams parks, intoning, “Let’s keep Singapore healthy,” in a female voice. “For your own safety, and for those around you, please stand at least one meter apart. Thank you.”

In related news, Spot can also herd sheep.

But that’s not the only way to help people keep physical distance. Industry 4.0 is all about the data, meaning it’s all about sensors. Industrial sensors can check temperature and location. For some time it has been possible to create wearables for factory workers that identify traffic patterns and help factories to avoid bottlenecks. Some also predict and prevent injuries.

The same sensors can let workers know when they get within 6 feet of coworkers. In theory, they could also alert workers to temperature increases that might signal a case of COVID-19. Adapting these proven technologies to pandemic uses could help increase worker safety.

The FUSE platform from StrongArm Tech is a promising candidate for the job. The full name of the solution is FUSE Risk Management Platform. In addition to its original injury reduction capabilities, FUSE will vibrate and flash when its sensor comes within 6 feet of another sensor, and sound an alarm if the closeness isn’t corrected. Supervisors can mute the alarm for 60 seconds if need be.

While it doesn’t collect personal data, FUSE can provide contact tracing, identifying the sensors which have been in proximity to an infected individual once that individual has been identified. It captures the time of the contact, and how long the people were in proximity.

Similar solutions are being rolled out for construction, hospitality, and retail industries.

While some observers have expressed concern that social distancing will become a habit we won’t find easy to give up, thanks to automation, many of us are finding it hard to do once we step outside of our homes.

Automated tools may make it easier to get workers back on the job safely.

This is also a great time to make sure that your Rexroth electric industrial motion control systems are in good condition. Call us for immediate assistance.

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