Today, as the entire world is disrupted by the outbreak of Covid-19, technology is playing a key role in the time of crisis. From Artificial Intelligence to Big Data and Face recognition, all are being used by countries across the world to contain the spread of the virus. In this way, robots emerge as savior technology for medical staff in hospitals where they cannot step in, in some countries, including a ward where Covid-19 patients have been admitted. Robots are being leveraged for activities like sanitising hospitals and delivering food and medicines in many parts of the world. Now it can soon be used in India where experiments are underway to enhance their role in fighting against Covid-19.
The Sawai Man Singh Government Hospital in the Rajasthan is conducting a series of trials on a humanoid robot for services like delivering medicines, and food to the Covid-19 patients admitted there. It is said that this could potentially lessen the chances of the healthcare staff contracting the infection. Even, the World Health Organisation has advised physical distancing for people worldwide to avoid the community-level spread of the virus.
On the other hand, a Kerala-based startup Asimov Robotics has built a three-wheeled robot that it claims can be used to help patients in isolation wards. This can assist with things like food and medication, something that nurses and doctors have been doing so far that put them at a larger risk of contracting the virus.
Though the idea of robots taking up jobs done by humans in the past may feel dystopian but scientists believe machines can free up hospital medical staff while confining the spread of the virus.
According to the executive dean of Science and Technology in Punjab’s Lovely Professional University (LPU), Lovi Raj Gupta, robots can play a vital role during the present pandemic as they can minimise human intervention at all levels, starting from patient examination to patient care and drug delivery mechanism.
Currently, India has reported 1,347 confirmed cases, including 32 deaths, and 101 recovered, according to the COVIDIndia.org.
Moving ahead, robots can act on an array of tasks, ranging from disinfecting surfaces to taking temperature of people in public areas or at ports of entry and providing social support for quarantined patients. As per the researchers from Carnegie Mellon University in the US, robots can also accumulate nasal and throat samples for testing, and enable people to virtually attend conferences and exhibitions. In each case, the use of robots can reduce human exposure to pathogens, which will become increasingly important as epidemics escalate, they explained.
Earlier this month, a field hospital staffed with 14 robots opened in the Hongshan Sports Center in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus. Supplied by Beijing-based robotics company CloudMinds, the robots can clean and disinfect, deliver medicine to patients and measure their temperature.
As the pandemic started from the China city of Wuhan, it has now reached across over 196 countries around the globe. Currently, most countries have temporarily been imposed lockdown, restricting citizens to stay at home and maintain social distancing to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Places like malls, cinema halls, markets, airports, and railway stations all are forced to shut down due to the virus.