COVID-19 Crisis: How Robots Might Help Win The Battle
Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a worldwide shutdown with only essential products and services being available. The deadly virus, which spreads through human contact, has been presenting a tough battle for even the most advanced healthcare systems. It is now believed that robots could hold the key answer to combat the COVID-19 crisis.
Interestingly, a team of robots provided temporary care for patients in a makeshift hospital in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus. Here, meals were served, temperatures checked, and other communication handled by a robot called Cloud Ginger developed CloudMinds. The robots provided useful information, conversational engagement, entertainment with dancing, and even led patients through stretching exercises. There was a small team of medical staff remotely controlling the field of hospital robots, providing the healthcare workers a safe distance away from the virus.
Apart from China, healthcare facilities in Thailand, Israel, and other parts of the world have begun using robots for consultations. Some of the robots were even trained to tend to classic checkup tasks of listing to a patient’s lungs as they breathe. According to The New York Times report, Alexandra Hospital in Singapore uses a robot called BeamPro to deliver medicine and meals to patients diagnosed with COVID-19 or those suspected to be infected with the virus in its isolation wards. Here, doctors and nurses control the robot using a computer from outside the room, maintaining social distance. The screen and camera formed means of communication with the healthcare personnel, helping to reduce the number of ‘touchpoints’ and decreasing the risk for healthcare workers.
The best and the most obvious advantage of having a robot is that it can be sent to even the worst-hit and most-affected premises and check patients. In fact, robots were sent aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship and were checked for weeks, even after the infected passengers were evacuated. Also, while doctors and other healthcare workers tired in these stressful times, a robot can work around tirelessly. Of course, it needs to be plugged and charged regularly, but it can be relied upon to work without tiring or errors.