Given, the extremely contagious nature of COVID-19, it is very hard to directly attend to patients and potential cases without protective clothing. With this in mind, researchers at the Tsinghua University in China claim to have created a robot that can aid doctors in such scenarios.
This 'coronavirus robot', the machine contains a mobile robotic arm that can perform a wide array of tasks including taking ultrasounds tests and mouth swabs and listening to sounds made by a patient’s organs. More often that not, many of these tasks are require human effort and supervision. However, one of the key advantages offered by the new robot is that it can be remotely controlled. This allows doctors to supervise the robot's work from a safe distance without endangering their own health.
Envisioned by Professor Zheng Gangtie at Tsinghua University when Wuhan first went into Lockdown around the turn of the Lunar New Year, the robot contains a mechanized arm founded upon the same technology that is used on space stations and lunar explorers today. Zheng's team originally intended the robot to be fully automated but was advised against it by doctors who claimed that personal attention by doctors can contribute to the recovery of the affected.
So far, Zheng's team has made two robots. One of which is now at the Wuhan Union Hospital, where doctors started training to use it on Thursday. The other is currently still in the laboratory. Should things go as planned, Zheng claims that the robots can team up with nurses and doctors to start tending to coronavirus patients as early as Sunday.
It costs around $72,000 to make this robot. Zheng does not plan on commercializing the design of the robot but is looking forward to companies that are willing to do so.