New Developments in Robotics are Driven by Covid-19 Crisis

28 Mar 2020

The covid-19 pandemic has put people and the healthcare system under enormous stress. Patients are filling emergency rooms and hospitals are stretched thin, leading engineers & physicians to advocate for the use of robots which can work 24/7 on a task and may also be able to react appropriately in a crisis situation.

In an article in the journal “Science Robotics”, it’s noted that covid-19 can help to drive new developments in robotics – and the device also have a range of other benefits like more effective diagnosis, screening, and patient care.

The use of robots to fight the virus is not a new invention, they have been used for some time now. In Hong Kong, there is a fleet of miniature robots that disinfect the city’s subways, while China has an entire field hospital stuffed by robots to relieve overworked healthcare workers. In the U.S., robots played a rule in what is thought to be the country’s first case of covid-19. One fitted with a stethoscope & microphone was used with 35-years guy after showing the symptoms for the first time.

With robots already being used to disinfect, deliver medications and food, measure vital signs, and assist with border controls, it’s easy to see that they will continue to be an important part of our lives. Using robots for pandemic response is just one of the ways they can be put to use. Robots can also assist with testing and screening – this goes for any device, such as robot that identifies a suitable vein and performs blood draws. They could also, for example, take over hospital disinfection entirely. Using this device there would be continuous sterilization of high-touch areas with UV light.

In order to have the potential to save lives, robotics research needs a lot of investment. Fortunately, Covid-19 could provide an opportunity for this research and be instrumental in finally developing robots for public health. In the face of the Ebola outbreak, medical centers started to take advantage of AI technologies. Although it is still not in widespread use, we can only hope that attitudes towards it will change.

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