The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in lockdowns all around the world. While places like Sydney, Australia may have had the longest lockdowns, China’s heavy use of terrifying lockdown robots make for the most dystopian.
From robot dogs with loud megaphones to drones displaying messages in the skies, China’s COVID measure are straight out of sci-fi. While they may be designed for the good of limiting the virus, they’re still rather unsettling.
China’s lockdown robots in the streets
In Shanghai, Chinese citizens have been introduced to the strength of robotic guards. With 25 million people forced indoors, the Chinese government has introduced robot dogs to make sure everyone stays inside.
Via The Times, China has introduced the robotic force after Shanghai saw more than 30,000 COVID cases in March. With the country enforcing a “Zero COVID” policy, the entirety of the massive city is under surveillance.
One video from a state-run outlet shows a robotic dog patrolling the empty city streets. As the less dystopian part of the force, it simply blares instructions at citizens.
“Wear the mask, wash your hands frequently, check your temperature,” the robots say as they stomp through Shanghai.
However, while many Chinese residents are pleased by the robot dog despite lockdown conditions, there are other devices that are not looked upon as fondly. For example, China’s lockdown robots also include a fleet of drones.
As robot dogs instruct Chinese citizens how to stay safe inside, drones are used to track civilians outside. Due to their range and speed, drones are used to find citizens breaking lockdown and urge them inside.
One video sent to The Times shows a drone flying next to a civilian in a public park. While following the citizen, the drone shouts the following statement:
“Your behaviour has violated anti-pandemic rules. Please go home immediately, or you will be punished in accordance with the law.”
Chinese citizens in lockdown that can’t access food have taken to singing from the balconies of their apartments. However, the lockdown robots have also been tasked with quieting the singing civilians.
The drones responded to the citizens by blaring these orders: “Please comply with Covid restrictions. Control your soul's desire for freedom. Do not open the window or sing.”
The wrong way to enforce lockdown
Of course, lockdowns are an effective way of limiting a pandemic’s spread. However, lockdowns should always come with individual support from the government.
In Japan, coronavirus victims are granted a large box of supplies to keep them healthy during their sickness. However, in other countries there is very little support from the government, which leads many to break lockdown rules.
China’s use of lockdown robots could’ve been used to successfully educate people on how to react to lockdown. However, instead, the technology is being used to oppress those in need.