China has deployed a team of 5G-powered patrolling robots to take the body temperature of pedestrians in a bid to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, which has killed at least 493.
The androids blast out messages to remind passers-by to wash their hands and wear face masks, and will alert police at once if they spot anyone who fails to don a mask, according to state media.
The self-driving machines have been spotted at airports and shopping malls in the cities of Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xi'an and Guiyang.
The district of Huangpu in Guangzhou is the first area in China to have used the patrolling robots.
Each of them is equipped with five high-resolution cameras and an infrared thermometer, the local government said on its official social media account.
They can record the body temperatures of passers-by within a radius of five metres (16.4 feet).
A pre-recorded audio clip is played on loop and reminds residents to 'wear a face mask while going out, wash hands frequently, avoid gathering up and voluntarily assist to have your body temperature taken'.
Police will be able to control the devices remotely and as soon as the robots detect anyone without a face mask - a mandatory preventative measure required by many local governments - they will alert officers.
The district government of Huangpu said the new technology could help prevent the virus from spreading between police and residents.
'The robots can effectively save manpower, reduce the patrolling pressure and avoid cross-infection,' their developer told official Guangming Daily.
The high-tech policing tools have also appeared at the Wanda Plaza in Guangzhou, Longdongbao International Airport in Guiyang, Nanjing Road shopping street in Shanghai, Xi'an North Railway Station, among others.
Apart from patrolling, robots have also been used by doctors in Guangzhou to help treat coronavirus patients.
Medics from Guangdong Provincial People's Hospital started to use two robots powered by artificial intelligence and capable of disinfecting themselves to assist their work late last month.
The pair of droids were tasked to deliver medicine and food to sufferers as well as collecting bed sheets and medical rubbish, said the local health commission.
The use of the self-driving and self-charging machines could cut down the workload of medics and reduce the risks of cross-infection, according to officials.
The death toll from the epidemic continues to rise in China as the country's authorities reported 66 new deaths overnight and Hong Kong saw its first victim yesterday.
The life-threatening disease, which can spread through saliva, has killed at least 493 people and infected more than 24,600 globally.
The Foreign Office yesterday told all 30,000 UK nationals stuck in mainland China to return to the UK in a desperate bid to protect their health.
But the announcement was met with fury as it emerged all evacuees outside of Wuhan - the city at the centre of the outbreak - must find their own way out, despite major airlines suspending all flights to China and cities being put on lockdown.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.