COVID Robocop: Droid That Reminds People to Wear Face Mask

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  • The remote-controlled robot that has been built by the Egyptian mechanical engineer Mahmoud El komy to test people for the coronavirus by running PCR tests, limiting exposure to suspected cases, during the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cairo, Egypt June 12, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

    The remote-controlled robot that has been built by the Egyptian mechanical engineer Mahmoud El komy to test people for the coronavirus by running PCR tests, limiting exposure to suspected cases, during the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cairo, Egypt June 12, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

    TEMPO.COParis - Engineers have developed a robot that can detect whether people are wearing a face mask to guard against COVID-19 and, if not, politely remind them to put one on.

    The feature is an upgrade of Pepper, a 120 cm (47 inch) high robot with human-like features that are already in operation in some countries welcoming visitors to shops, exhibitions and other public spaces.

    Pepper’s camera scans the faces of people approaching it, and if it detects the lower half of their face is uncovered, it pronounces the phrase: “You have to always wear a mask properly.”

    If it sees that the visitor then puts on a face mask, the robot follows up with the phrase: “Thank you for having put on your mask.”

    The idea is not to have robot police whether people are wearing face masks, but to provide a friendly reminder, said Jonathan Boiria, head of sales in Europe for SoftBank Robotics, the company behind Pepper.

    “Shops have to assign people at the entrance, a lot of people, to ensure respect for the wearing of masks, and sometimes that is a stretch,” Boiria told Reuters in Paris.

    “A robot allows you to free up some people so they can focus on their normal tasks.”

    “We’re all human. Sometimes I take off my mask when I get off the bus and I forget to put it back on when I arrive at the office. The robot provides a reminder. We can all get it wrong or forget.”

    Read: Tips to Overcome Mask Anxiety

    REUTERS