Nav: Home

How robots can help combat COVID-19: Science Robotics editorial

March 25, 2020

Can robots be effective tools in combating the COVID-19 pandemic? A group of leaders in the field of robotics, including Henrik Christensen, director of UC San Diego's Contextual Robotics Institute, say yes, and outline a number of examples in an editorial in the March 25 issue of Science Robotics. They say robots can be used for clinical care such as telemedicine and decontamination; logistics such as delivery and handling of contaminated waste; and reconnaissance such as monitoring compliance with voluntary quarantines.

"Already, we have seen robots being deployed for disinfection, delivering medications and food, measuring vital signs, and assisting border controls," the researchers write.

Christensen, who is a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego, particularly highlighted the role that robots can play in disinfection, cleaning and telepresence.

Other co-authors include Marcia McNutt, president of the National Research Council and president of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as a number of other robotics experts from international and U.S. universities.

"For disease prevention, robot-controlled noncontact ultraviolet (UV) surface disinfection has already been used because COVID-19 spreads not only from person to person via close contact respiratory droplet transfer but also via contaminated surfaces," the researchers write.

"Opportunities lie in intelligent navigation and detection of high-risk, high-touch areas, combined with other preventative measures," the researchers add. "New generations of large, small, micro-, and swarm robots that are able to continuously work and clean (i.e., not only removing dust but also truly sanitizing/sterilizing all surfaces) could be developed."

In terms of telepresence, "the deployment of social robots can present unique opportunities for continued social interactions and adherence to treatment regimes without fear of spreading more disease," researchers write. "However, this is a challenging area of development because social interactions require building and maintaining complex models of people, including their knowledge, beliefs, emotions, as well as the context and environment of interaction."

"COVID-19 may become the tipping point of how future organizations operate," researchers add. "Rather than cancelling large international exhibitions and conferences, new forms of gathering--virtual rather than in-person attendance--may increase. Virtual attendees may become accustomed to remote engagement via a variety of local robotic avatars and controls."

"Overall, the impact of COVID-19 may drive sustained research in robotics to address risks of infectious diseases," researchers go on. "Without a sustainable approach to research and evaluation, history will repeat itself, and technology robots will not be ready ready to assist for the next incident."
-end-


University of California - San Diego

Related Robots Articles:

Designing better nursing care with robots
Robots are becoming an increasingly important part of human care, according to researchers based in Japan.
Darn you, R2! When can we blame robots?
A recent study finds that people are likely to blame robots for workplace accidents, but only if they believe the robots are autonomous.
Robots need a new philosophy to get a grip
Robots need to know the reason why they are doing a job if they are to effectively and safely work alongside people in the near future.
How can robots land like birds?
Birds can perch on a wide variety of surfaces, thick or thin, rough or slick.
Soft robots for all
Each year, soft robots gain new abilities. They can jump, squirm, and grip.
The robots that dementia caregivers want: robots for joy, robots for sorrow
A team of scientists spent six months co-designing robots with informal caregivers for people with dementia, such as family members.
Faster robots demoralize co-workers
A Cornell University-led team has found that when robots are beating humans in contests for cash prizes, people consider themselves less competent and expend slightly less effort -- and they tend to dislike the robots.
Increasing skepticism against robots
In Europe, people are more reserved regarding robots than they were five years ago.
Humans help robots learn tasks
With a smartphone and a browser, people worldwide will be able to interact with a robot to speed the process of teaching robots how to do basic tasks.
Robots as tools and partners in rehabilitation
Why trust should play a crucial part in the development of intelligent machines for medical therapies.
More Robots News and Robots Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Uncharted
There's so much we've yet to explore–from outer space to the deep ocean to our own brains. This hour, Manoush goes on a journey through those uncharted places, led by TED Science Curator David Biello.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#555 Coronavirus
It's everywhere, and it felt disingenuous for us here at Science for the People to avoid it, so here is our episode on Coronavirus. It's ok to give this one a skip if this isn't what you want to listen to right now. Check out the links below for other great podcasts mentioned in the intro. Host Rachelle Saunders gets us up to date on what the Coronavirus is, how it spreads, and what we know and don't know with Dr Jason Kindrachuk, Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and infectious diseases at the University of Manitoba. And...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 1: Numbers
In a recent Radiolab group huddle, with coronavirus unraveling around us, the team found themselves grappling with all the numbers connected to COVID-19. Our new found 6 foot bubbles of personal space. Three percent mortality rate (or 1, or 2, or 4). 7,000 cases (now, much much more). So in the wake of that meeting, we reflect on the onslaught of numbers - what they reveal, and what they hide.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.