Robots play an essential role in our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the biggest problems of our time. They are deployed in so many different ways and forms across the globe to prevent the spread of viruses and save lives.
Some work as disinfecting robots. Some are lending their helping hands to facilitate a conversation between infected patients and hospital staff, while others deliver medical supplies and goods.
In this post, we will look at the top 8 popular robots currently used across the globe to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the defining global health crisis of our time and the greatest challenge we have faced since World War 2.
The outbreak is spreading like wildfire in more than 200 countries, resulting in more than 60,000 deaths (as of today) and severe global socioeconomic disruption.
1. UVD robots by Blue Ocean Robotics
UVD robots by Danish manufacturer Blue Ocean Robotics are unmanned mobile platforms with ultraviolet (UV) light to disinfect facilities. China deployed more than 2,000 UVD robots to destroy viruses in its hospitals in Wuhan and other places. The units currently operate in more than 40 countries – in Asia, Europe, and the United States.
The ultraviolet lights (UV-C) kill harmful microorganisms. The current IERA innovation award winner at IEEE and the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), the robot moves autonomously around patient rooms and operating theatres, covering all critical surfaces with the right amount of UV-C light to kill specific viruses and bacteria. It can kill 99.99 % of all viruses and bacteria in a typical patient room in 10 minutes. The robot disengages automatically if someone enters the room.
2. TMiRob’s disinfection robot
Shanghai-based medical robot developer TMiRob is currently overwhelmed by the unprecedentedly massive demand for its disinfection robots after the novel coronavirus epidemic hit China hard. This autonomous robot combines chloric acid and plasma to disinfect an environment, frequented by patients and medical workers alike. The company is producing 300 robots every month.
A similar type of robot is produced by Shanghai Lingzhi Technology with an internal disinfection system that can release disinfection gas. This automatic mobile disinfection robot is capable of autonomous navigation and replace human beings in the performance of tasks like complete disinfection in epidemic areas. A robot can carry a maximum of 1,500 milliliters of disinfectant, providing three hours of nonstop work each time.
GermFalcon is the world’s first UV-C system designed for airplanes. Developed by Los Angeles-based Dimer UVC Innovations, this robot can quickly disinfect an aircraft’s interior surfaces in minutes between flights.
GermFalcon uses a set of mercury lamps to bathe the airline cabin, bathrooms, and galley in ultraviolet-C light. The machine is no larger than a flight attendant’s food and drink cart. It has retractable wings with germicidal UVC lamps that target seatbelts, seatbacks, armrests, tray tables, overhead bins, window shades, and floors.
PuduBot is an autonomous service delivery robot developed by Shenzhen-based Pudu Technology. This small autonomous waiter robot on wheels delivers cooked foods and medical supplies to patients who are being quarantined in local hospitals. The robot takes 2 hours to create a map of the environment and prepares itself for the first delivery. It uses multi-sensor fusion positioning and navigation technology, coupled with a visual sensor, UWB, IMU, encoder, infrared and ultrasonic sensors, to plan the path and avoid obstacles.
5. XR-1 Cloud Ginger
XR-1 Cloud Ginger is a humanoid service robot developed by robotics company CloudMinds to help hospital staff. This friendly robot with an emotionally intuitive design can engage with patients like a human. It has 34 actuators that simulate the ways humans move and talk, i.e., flexible fingers, eye contact, and arms that gesticulate in conversation. The robot’s voice, pitch, tone, speaking cadence, and dialogue were designed to approximate human speech patterns. It can read and understand human emotions and can even dance and lead patients through stretching exercises to help patients stay active and in good spirits.
RoboAds is another service robot to combat COVID-19. Developed by Robotics startup RoboAds Inc., the robot is an all-in-one mobile kiosk, equipped with four 55-Inch screens in 4K resolutions, speakers and microphones. The operators can initiate teleconference video calls on one or multiple screens. It has two lidar scanners that ensure 360-degree obstacle avoidance while moving. The robot can navigate autonomously or teleoperated. It can also display awareness and instructional videos.
7. R80 robot
R80 is an agricultural utility vehicle, developed by XAG, a leading player in agriculture technology. Originally designed as a farm robot for precision crop spraying, monitoring, and transportation, the robot is now used to release disinfectant in coronavirus infected zones, densely populated areas, epidemic prevention vehicles and waste collection points. R80 uses its 360° high-speed intelligent JetSprayer and has an 80 liters capacity.
8. Ninja robots
Ninja robot was built to monitor recovering stroke patients. But recently, it has been quickly repurposed to help fight the coronavirus outbreak. Thai hospitals are using the robot to measure fevers and to reduce the risk of infection by allowing doctors and nurses to talk to patients over a video link. The doctors and nurses can stand outside the room and communicate with patients through the robot.