10 ways robots fight against the COVID-19 pandemic

The novel coronavirus crisis has increased public interest in robotic technologies and artificial intelligence, seen as effective resources in combating the pandemic. Let us check some examples of how robots are addressing the challenges posed by COVID-19 in Europe.

Inside the hospitals, robots can be deployed for disinfection, medicine and food delivery, vital signs monitoring, thus helping to significantly reduce the infection risk of all personnel.

1. Robots will roam the Hospitals of the Future, with an integrated infrastructure.

In Romania, a modular hospital for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms was just opened.

“This is just a snapshot of how hospitals should have looked like during these times. We have talked extensively about Robotics and AI, but less about integration. This pandemic showed us just how useful robots can be during a crisis and the fact that they can actually save lives!”, says Ana Maria Stancu, euRobotics Board member and CEO of Bucharest Robots.

Bucharest Robots integrated a UVD robot which disinfected a space of 7500 sqm in just a few hours, two robots that offer information to patients and one waitress robot that delivers food, all without any human contact.

2. Robots that can disinfect hospital wards autonomously.

UVD, the Danish autonomous disinfection robot, can sanitize contaminated areas autonomously, without the intervention of medical staff. The robot uses UVC light and an autonomous robotic base. The UVD mobile disinfection robot developed by Blue Ocean Robotics together with its subsidiary UVD Robots and Odense University Hospital, won the euRobotics Technology Transfer Award 2020.

3. Robots deliver medicines, blood tests, food and help with hospital logistics in general.

In Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain, the TIAGo Base robot of PAL Robotics can deliver food and it can carry objects such as medication and samples around in hospitals and similar environments. Check everything that PAL Robotics can do to alleviate COVID-19 crisis.

4. Robots help keep doctors safe from coronavirus.

In Italy, Tommy, a robot nurse, helps doctors and nurses in a hospital in Varese, Lombardia, to monitor vital signs from devices in the rooms, and allow corona virus patients to send messages to doctors.

In Valencia, Spain, Robotnik is developing through ENDORSE (a EU-funded project) a mobile robot base which can serve as an interface to obtain the patient’s status remotely.

In Denmark, Life Science Robotics (LSR) created ROBERT, a device with an integrated lightweight KUKA robot, to support physiotherapists in mobilizing patients, in times of social distancing.

In Edinburgh, Scotland, UK, SPRING, a project funded under H2020, aims at creating the first healthcare robot to hold a conversation with more than one person at a time.

The Clothilde project led by UPC-CSIC Institute of Industrial Robotics and Informatics of Catalunya, investigates cloth manipulation by robots. Its latest development in healthcare is oriented towards helping elderly or people with disabilities to dress.

5. Robots help speed up the corona virus tests.

Spain plans to deploy a fleet of robots that will automate the country’s coronavirus testing, allowing them to execute 80,000 tests per day.

In Belgium, the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology part of the Vrije Universiteit Brussels is lending its Kingfisher robots which can process a large quantity of corona virus tests at a time.

The Liege Hospital Centre has partnered with the Swiss company Roche in order to get a robot COBAS 6800 to boost their testing capacities.

6. Robots help patients and elderly to maintain social contact.

Staying in Belgium, Zorabots is lending a fleet of James robots to elderly care homes to help residents to connect with their loved ones, since visitors are not allowed.

Robotics also help outside of the hospital environment in the fight of containing the virus.

7. In Spain, ABB robots have been reprogrammed by Nagami Design to produce masks.

8. In Andalusia, Spain, the Center for Advanced Aerospace Technologies, FADA-CATEC and Airvant are designing an aerial robot to disinfect logistics areas.

9. In Germany, a Pepper robot was used in a supermarket to remind people about complying with social distancing rules.

10. In Greece, during the closure of schools, EdumotivaLab shows how children can keep learning to use and program robots at home.

Do you have more ideas of how robots can support the fight against COVID-19?

The European Commission launched an initiative to collect ideas about deployable Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics solutions that could help face the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

The initiative aims to create a unique repository that is easily accessible to all citizens, stakeholders and policymakers and become part of the common European response to the outbreak of COVID-19.

The H2020 project DIH-HERO €4 million Technology Transfer Experiment call is still open, and COVID-19 related proposals are more than welcome (max. €200,000 per application, deadline 15/06/2020).

The DIHNET project created a collection in their community platform for all the calls that are launched by Digital Innovation Hubs (DIH) and related to the fight against COVID-19.

Other resources on robots against COVID-19: