Shanghai using robot dogs, drones to issue COVID lockdown commands

The government in Shanghai is turning to robot dogs and drones to command its 25 million residents to stay home amid a citywide shutdown as COVID case numbers soar.

People in China’s business capital and most populous city have grown frustrated over the government’s effort to contain a spreading outbreak. They say they’re struggling to get meat, rice and other supplies while confined to their homes.

After residents of a Shanghai apartment complex stood on their balconies to sing this week in a possible protest, a drone flew overhead and broadcast the message: "Control the soul’s desire for freedom and do not open the window to sing. This behavior has the risk of spreading the epidemic."

Alice Su, senior China correspondent for The Economist, shared a video of the drone from the Chinese blogging site Weibo: 

On Thursday, the government reported 23,107 new cases nationwide, all but 1,323 of which had no symptoms. That included 19,989 in Shanghai, where only 329 had symptoms.

RELATED: China reports first deaths from COVID-19 in more than a year

Complaints about food shortages began after Shanghai closed segments of the city on March 28. Plans called for four-day closures of districts while residents were tested. That changed to an indefinite citywide shutdown after case numbers soared.

Videos of robot dogs with speakers attached appeared on social media soon after the lockdown was announced. They say things like, "Wear the mask, wash your hands frequently, check your temperature," and reportedly tell people to go back inside.

City officials apologized publicly last week and promised to improve food supplies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.