Coronavirus Impels Upsurge in Mobile Robotics Use Cases

by April 24, 2020


Coming out from the dimensions of manufacturing plants, mobile robots have taken a center stage in the fight against coronavirus. As per the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO), people are following social distancing owing to which having human resources has become difficult to avail. Therefore, mobile robots are playing a major role in easing out the burden of healthcare organizations. From assisting doctors and nurses in the hospital to helping police in conducting successful city patrolling amid lockdown, these machines are playing an extremely pivotal role.

For example, Denmark’s UVD Robots which is a leader in fully autonomous ultraviolet-light-disinfection robots shipped hundreds of them to China in February and hundreds more throughout Europe in March. A much smaller number has arrived in the US but several hundred more are on the way.

In San Antonio, Texas, Xenex, another leading provider of UV-light-zapping germicidal robots, has shipped hundreds of their LightStrike bots around the world, including to nearly 70 Veterans Administration hospitals in the U.S. and to ten sites run by the US Department of Defense.

Moreover, robot maker Boston Dynamics announced recently that its quadruped Spot robot is already in use at one Boston hospital to help with coronavirus treatment. The company now has ambitious plans to expand the use of its robots to assist healthcare workers during the pandemic, and it’s also open-sourcing the hardware and software it’s using so other hospitals and robot makers may be able to do follow its lead.

Boston Dynamics says it’s not intending to stop at telemedicine. Instead, the company is looking into ways to make its Spot robots even more vital assets in the fight against COVID-19. The company is now actively looking into remote vital inspection so that Spot robots can perform tasks like temperature checks and respiratory rate calculations using thermal camera technology.

These are the perfect examples of how coronavirus is propelling the mobile robotics market at another level. Such ambitious and innovative projects undertaken by several robotics companies implies that in the coming months we can see an upsurge in growing business use cases of mobile robotics not only in the healthcare sector but across different touchpoints.

Mobile robots are so much in demand for these use cases right now—driven by a shift in the understanding of what these platforms can do—that tech market advisory firm ABI Research expects the overall mobile robotics market to grow to US$23 billion by 2021. “Crises shift perceptions on what is possible regarding investment and transformative action on the part of both private and government actors,” said Rian Whitton, senior analyst at ABI Research. “By the time the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, robots will be mainstreamed across a range of applications and markets.”

Whitton recommends that “industrial players develop customized solutions for non-manufacturing use cases or look to build comprehensive solutions for enabling a scale-up in medical supply manufacturing. For mobile robotics vendors and software companies targeting more nascent markets, this represents a big chance to highlight the importance of robotics for dealing with national emergencies, as well as mitigating the economic shock.”