Robots tackle the Coronavirus

The Coronavirus is so contagious, anyone who comes into contact with someone who has the virus is at risk themselves – which makes dealing with the risk a perfect task for robots.  Robots tackle the Coronavirus and maintain a safe environment for humans in 3 ways.

Medical Treatment

The first patient in the United States who reported the virus checked into the emergency room, was diagnosed and put into isolation.  To reduce the risk of infection passing to medical and nursing staff, a robot equipped with a stethoscope measures the patient’s vital signs and sends the results back to medical staff outside the room.  Staff can control the movement of the robot and can communicate back to the patient via the robot.  Whilst there may be concerns about whether this method of treatment is impersonal, these are greatly outweighed by benefits gained from protecting hospital staff from infection, and the virus spreading wider.

Controlling the Virus

In Wuhan itself, where the outbreak started, more than 40 robots have been deployed in 6 hospitals providing a range of services to both control the outbreak and protect staff from infection.  Mobile robots are moving around the hospital’s wards, theatres, and labs, disinfecting the air and equipment with UV light, hydrogen peroxide mist and plasma air purifiers.  On the wards themselves, robots are measuring patients’ temperature, blood pressure and other signs, and delivering medicines.  Medical and nursing staff view cameras and monitors on the robots from a safe distance.

These robots are locally made in Wuhan province by TMiRob, whose main challenge has been getting their robots delivered to the hospitals as transport has been closed down and staff are reluctant to deliver to the hospitals.

Hotel Room Service

People are being held in quarantine in hotels – where robots are providing room service, delivering food and drinks to rooms so that hotel staff do not run the risk of coming into contact with the virus.  Many ‘Little Peanut’ hospitality robots are used in a hotel in Hangzhou, China, where over 300 people are quarantined in a 16 storey hotel, with several robots on each floor.

Our comment

“Robots are perfect solutions when the conditions are difficult and dangerous for humans.  There’s no question that the Coronavirus represents a challenge and a dangerous situation for us all but particularly anyone who comes into contact with the virus.  These robots are helping to dramatically reduce those risks”, says Liz Reid, MD of RNR Robot Solutions.  “This technology represents significant progress, where robots are working with humans to protect them from danger”.

UPDATE

Further applications are emerging:

Monitoring

  • major tech hub Shenzen city has introduced a fleet of robots to help detect people with a fever
  • infra red technology can measure temperatures of people driving past in cars
  • by reading QR codes the robots can spread important information

Disinfection

San Antonio-based Xenex Disinfection Services are deploying robots to use UV rays to destroy harmful viruses and bacteria.  

5G in Shanghai

5G robots are being used for cleaning and disinfection to reduce the risk to human staff in Shanghai.  

Thailand

5G robots are used to monitor symptoms of the inspected groups and take care of the infected to reduce the chances of medical personnel being exposed to the disease.

Hospital ward staffed by robots

Wuhan, centre of the initial outbreak of the virus in China, has opened a ward which is staffed entirely by robots.  They deliver food, drink and drugs to patients, and keep the ward clean and disinfected.  

UV Disinfectant

Danish robot company are shipping robots to China capable of using UVC light to attack harmful micro-organisms.

Hong Kong trains

Small fridge-sized robots used in Hong Kong to clean subway trains using vaporised sprays.  

Texas Medical Centre

Robots used to completely disinfect and sanitize rooms.  

Diagnosis and Treatment

Robots in Chinese hospitals are being deployed to help guide preliminary diagnosis and treatment, primary disclosure of medical information, and fixed-point delivery of medical supplies. 

Care homes for the elderly

In Belgium, robots are used in care homes for the elderly to help residents remain connected to the outside world.  

Kerala, India

In a first for India, robots are being used to measure temperatures and offer advice

Thailand

Robots deployed to screen and observe patients – these robots have been modified from their previous application to monitor recovering stroke patients.  

Denmark

UV zapping robot can disinfect a room within 20 minutes.  

Hong Kong

Robots used to clean metro trains and stations.  

Spain

Using robots to automate testing for COVID19, increasing their testing capacity to 80,000 per day.