coronavirus

NBC 5 Responds: How Robots Are Helping to Enforce Mask Orders

Trinity Metro is one of the first agencies in the country to deploy this type of technology at its train stations in Fort Worth.   

NBCUniversal, Inc.

NBC 5 RESPONDS: HOW ROBOTS ARE HELPING TO ENFORCE MASK ORDERS

Trinity Metro is one of the first agencies in the country to deploy this type of technology at its train stations in Fort Worth.   

A north Texas agency is one of the first places in the country to use a new, robotic technology, that will help enforce mask orders-- hoping to end person-to-person conflicts. 

There have been several confrontations caught on camera showing angry customers confronted for ignoring mandatory mask policies.  Several of those videos have gone viral.

“They’re horrifying videos, they’re just horrifying, they’re not fun,” said Steve Reinharz, founder and CEO of Robotic Assistance Devices.

Reinharz’s company is trying to take ugliness out of these encounters by deploying a robot at public places.

“We developed a face mask analytic so we can either say look for people with face masks on or look for people without a face masks on,” said Reinharz.

They call the robot, ROSA, which means responsive observation security agent.

When ROSA recognizes a person about to enter a business without a mask, you hear and see the warning immediately.

“It is a nonbiased, non-confrontational approach to reminding people to wear their face mask,”

Jon-Erik “AJ” Arjanen, vice president and COO for Trinity Metro.

Trinity Metro is one of the first agencies in the country to deploy this type of technology at its train stations in Fort Worth.   The agency told NBC 5 the device also frees up staff.

“We've had the ROSAs up for about just about a month now and have really great feedback on those,” said Arjanen.  “Innovation and technology is advancing every day and it is what we're trying to do. From an agency standpoint to leverage this. So, again, we can better utilize our human capital at other locations where there might be a greater need,” said Arjanen.

The robot’s creator acknowledges someone could chose to ignore the messages, but he says businesses are bracing for the possibility they’ll have to enforce Covid-19 safety measures for years to come and hope to avoid the confrontations seen in recent months.

“If you have a machine tell you to do something it blows my mind that the level of compliance is just skyrocketing,” said Reinharz.

The robotic mask detection technology has only been on the market since late July. The company says they’re deploying them at businesses all over the country.

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