How robots are helping in the fight against COVID-19
Robots have a bad reputation; if they are not stealing your job they’re plotting to take over the entire world and enslave the human race.
But in the age of the coronavirus, robots are being increasingly relied on for being both fast and efficient, as well as being totally immune to COVID-19.
It was teams of robots that cared for patients inside the city’s makeshift hospital in Wuhan. The machines served meals and took temperatures, then logged their data for human doctors to analyze.
According to CloudMinds president Karl Zhao (the firm contributed several of its robotic ‘team’ to Wuhan during the high-point of China’s virus spread), they also provided, “conversation, entertainment, dancing and led patients through sketching exercises”.
Robots like this one patrolled the temporary coronavirus wards in Wuhan
Here in the UAE, the Dubai Minicipality has confirmed it has begun using drones to help in its nation-wide sanitization program.
Elsewhere around the world, hospitals in Thailand have embraced robotic doctors – who meet with potential COVID-19 meetings along with a doctor via videoconferencing. Some consultants are even using robots to listen to patients lungs as they leave.
In Singapore, Alexandra Hospital is using a robot called BeamPro to deliver medicine and meals to patients diagnosed with coronavirus. Doctors and nurses can control the handy robot via computer from outside the room, as well as conduct conversations via screen and camera.
Thailand's robot nurses take temperatures and ask questions to those suspected of contracting the contagion
Ultimately, the robots reduce the number of ‘touch points’ or ways in which medical staff on the front lines of the COVID-19 might possibly contract the virus themselves.
Robots are also increasingly being used to disinfect rooms and halwlays. US Firm Xenex has seen a surge in requests from hospitals for its LightStyrike robot, a drone that flies through the hallways disinfecting using ultraviolet light.
LightStrike is an autonomous robot that patrols bedrooms disinfecting them via ultraviolet light
But robotic helpers aren’t without their downsides; the price.
Medical robots don’t come cheap. However, given the nature of the virus they may be one of the best ways to combat COVID-19. Which makes them very much worth the price.
“We are in a time of need for some of this technology,” says Lesley Rohrbaugh, director of research for the US Consumer Technology Association to venturebeat.com.
“So it seems like the benefits outweigh the costs.”
The next wave of technology that can be used against the coronavirus pandemic will not just come in the form or robots. A team at the University of South Australia is working with drone maker Draganfly to create a drone that can scan crowds for symptoms of infection.
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