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Countries deploy robots against COVID-19

A team from the engineering faculty of the University of Santo Tomas (UST), Mania, the Philippines, has created a robot to help with counter COVID-19 efforts.

The Logistic Indoor Service Assistant (LISA) robot has been designed to minimize direct contact between frontline workers and patients suffering from the coronavirus disease.

The project was spearheaded and conceptualized by engineering assistant professor, Anthony James Bautista, and Thomasian cardiologist, Rodrigo Santos, along with help from with the UST faculty of engineering.

With the dangers associated with workers ministering to COVID-19 patients compounded with the availability of human resources, the teams wanted to build a low-cost, and-easy-to-build telepresence robot.

The telepresence robot allows frontline workers to deliver medicine and communicate with patients without having to come in direct contact with them.

The robot employs a tablet device deployed with any internet-based communication platforms such as Zoom, Viber or FaceTime that will allow communication between healthcare staff and patients.

Set on a mobile base platform that is remote-controlled, the robot can move efficiently in different directions.

The set-up all has a compartment to store medication. This allows the robot to deliver medication to patients who are in a more stable condition.

Minimizing physical contact helps reduce the spread of the virus but can also play a part in conserving stocks of protective personal equipment.

The Department of Science and Technology Philippine Council for Industry, Energy and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST – PCIEERD) has expressed interest in funding the project for 3 months.

The LISA robot is in the pilot testing stage, but the team hopes that with improvements and support from DOST PCIEERD, it will be ready for hospital use.

Similarly, Malaysian scientists have created a barrel-shaped robot on wheels that they hope will make the rounds on hospital wards to check on coronavirus patients, reducing health workers’ risk of infection.

Created by scientists at the International Islamic University Malaysia “Medibot” is a 1.5 meter-tall (5-foot) robot that is designed to help health care workers interact with COVID-19 patients remotely.

Outfitted with a camera and screen, patients can communicate remotely with medics and healthcare workers. Medibot is also fitted with a device to check patients’ temperatures remotely.

The robot has been designed to help nurses and doctors reduce direct interaction time with COVID-19 patients.

Priced at about 15,000 ringgit ($3,500) the university is looking to trial it shortly in their own associated hospital, which does not treat virus patients.

If the trails are successful, the teams are looking to deploy the robots in government hospitals for COVID-19 patients.

Many other countries are deploying robots in the fight against COVID-19.

A robot modified to screen and observe COVID-19 coronavirus patients has been tested at the Regional Center of Robotics Technology at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

A robot called Ivo is being used to help patients infected by the novel coronavirus at the Circolo di Varese hospital.

A robot was used to counsel clients at a supermarket about appropriate behaviour in times of the coronavirus outbreak in Lindlar, Germany.

Other robots have been used in India, Tunisia, Italy and the US.

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