The robot named Sayabot greets a voter at a polling station in Kerala’s Ernakulam .(HT PHOTO)
The robot named Sayabot greets a voter at a polling station in Kerala’s Ernakulam .(HT PHOTO)

Robot in Kerala polling booth tells voters to follow Covid-19 norms

The robot is programmed to greet voters, take their temperature, dispense sanitizer and advise them to maintain social distancing.
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram | By Ramesh Babu
UPDATED ON DEC 10, 2020 03:55 PM IST

Sivaraman Nair (68), a retired government servant was in for a surprise Thursday morning when he reached his polling booth in Ernakulam community hall to vote in the local body polls.

At the polling booth, there was a robot which greeted him, took his temperature, gave him sanitizer and instructed him in a sweet voice to keep the required distance at the venue amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Named Sayabot the robot completed its task in one minute. Nair had read about robots in Japan and China but this was the first time he came across one, that too in a crowded polling booth. Sayabot seems to have bowled over both voters and officials.

When another voter came her temperature was slightly high and it immediately advised the voter to approach the polling officer and exercise her franchise separately so as to avoid possible infection to others. It went on to remind another voter who was wearing his mask casually, to cover his nose properly.

“Perhaps, this is the first a robot is being deployed in a polling booth in the country. It is doing its job perfectly. It enforced discipline and distancing in style. This is on a pilot basis and after gauging its success we will deploy it in other places after consulting the election commissioner and others,” said Ernakulam district collector S Suhas.

Sayabot was developed by a Kochi-based start-up firm Asimov Robotics. “We are making a multi-purpose humanoid service robot, called Sayabot. It is a versatile robot that can be customised to perform assigned tasks with precision and accuracy,” said CEO of Asimov Robotics T Jayakrishnan.

He said the robot at the polling station was developed in two days after the district administration approached his firm. He said Sayabot robots were deployed in banks, education and hospitality sectors in the state and outside.

Polling began Thursday morning in five districts - Ernakulam, Kottayam, Thrissur, Palakkad and Wayanad - in the second phase of the local body elections. The hotly- contested poll is crucial for major parties in the state ahead of the assembly elections due in April-May.

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