Researchers at one of China’s prime universities have designed a robot that can help save lives on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic.
The machine includes a robotic arm on wheels that can carry out ultrasounds, take mouth swabs and listen to sounds made by a patient’s organs, usually executed with a stethoscope.
Such tasks are usually performed by doctors in person. However, with this robot, which is equipped with cameras, medical personnel don’t need to be in the same room as the affected person, and could even be in a different metropolis.
The idea came to Zheng across the turn of the Lunar New Year. Wuhan had simply been put on lockdown and the number of infections and deaths was rising rapidly every day.
As an engineer, Zheng wanted to do something to contribute to the aid effort. On the first day of the Lunar New Year, he heard from his pal, Dong Jiahong, executive president at Beijing’s Tsinghua Changgung Hospital, that the largest problem was that of frontline workers getting affected.
Gathering a team, Zheng set to work converting two mechanized robot arms with the same expertise used on space stations and lunar explorers. The robots had been completely automated, and could even disinfect themselves after performing actions involving contact, Zheng stated.
The team now has two robots, which have been trialed by doctors at hospitals in Beijing. One is still at the group’s lab at the university, however, the other ist the Wuhan Union Hospital, where doctors began training to use it Thursday.