While the coronavirus pandemic poses a challenge for the health of medical personnel, Boston Dynamics has found a solution to limit their exposure to patients. Its Spot robot takes care of patients and could do much more.
Already on trial with the police, and more specifically with demining teams, the Spot robot has just found a new employer. While the coronavirus puts the hospital sector in many countries under pressure, with in particular the issue of exposure and the health of healthcare staff, Boston Dynamics reports that several establishments have contacted each other to deploy its robots, and that the ” dog “Spot is already active at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, where it helps to welcome patients.
Concretely, Spot was equipped with an iPad as a head and with a simple radio to allow doctors and nurses to carry out the first triage of patients without having to come to meet them. The robot is in fact a mobile telemedicine platform, the main function of which is to bring videoconferencing to where suspected patients are waiting to be taken care of. For the time being, Spot cannot carry out any tests or measurements, so it cannot replace all the caregivers in the reception phase. But Boston Dynamics is already working on adding equipment to take temperature, pulse (via thermal cameras) and record the respiratory rate as well as the oxygen saturation. A disinfection function (by UV) is also in the pipes.
According to the subsidiary of SoftBank, the first hospitals came to the information to limit the exposure of their staff from the beginning of March, one of the establishments having explained that a sixth of its workforce had contracted the coronavirus in the space of a week. The reduction in the number of people needed to receive patients also has a very significant secondary virtue across the Atlantic: it saves masks and other protective equipment while stocks are very limited.
Aware that the need does not relate specifically to Spot, but to any robot capable of moving around and thus ensuring a form of remote reception, Boston Dynamics explains that it has developed general software solutions, made available (open source) on GitHub, and invite all other robot manufacturers to use and collaborate.