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Robots to the Coronavirus Rescue




Robots to the Coronavirus Rescue

Scientists say it’s time to enlist robots in the fight against COVID-19. 

Medics Under Siege

As COVID-19 ravages much of the world, including the United States, medical professionals are becoming one of the most tragic, costly, and frequent casualties.  Doctors, due to their constant contact with infected patients, are at an unusually high risk of contracting the disease. This is made all the more likely as the stock of protective equipment begins to dwindle, which we’re seeing in hospitals around the world.

What’s more, medical professionals often suffer more severe cases. Though research is pending regarding the reason for this, some believe it has to do with their sustained, constant exposure to the virus, increasing the viral load prior to showing symptoms.

Medical professionals are under intense strain in hot spots like Madrid and New York, where an overwhelming number of cases means high risks for doctors and bad outcomes for patients.

Where Robots Come In

As the article states,
“During the Ebola outbreak, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation identified three broad areas where robotics can make a difference: clinical care, logistics, and reconnaissance.”

These three key areas already have the technology in place to support our medical staff and help quarantines function effectively.

Clinical Care 

Robots can take the load off of doctors in several areas, including telemedicine and decontamination.

Automated clinical care has been around for a while. It’s controversial for a few reasons, but the technology continues to improve. Surgeons can now even operate on patients remotely, controlling a robotic surgical tool, aided by nurses, from the other side of the planet.

With this in mind, it’s less difficult to image a robot visiting your home and employing some early detection tests, such as confirming that you have the virus or monitoring your oxygen levels. It could also enable a virtual consultation with a doctor, or disinfect your home to keep loved ones safe.

Delivery Drones 

Delivery drones aren’t science fiction. Amazon has been slowly rolling out the technology, with varying levels of success, for a couple years now. The application of this technology could save lives, if properly used to reduce human contact and automate waste disposal.

Delivery drones can send key supplies like groceries and medicine to residents, making the quarantine more bearable and reducing human contact.

Quarantine Cops 

Robots can help enforce quarantines by employing Terminator-style population control measures.

That’s a joke, but drones can patrol the streets, reminding citizens to stay in their homes during quarantine lockdowns and alerting authorities if it’s necessary to break up any groups.

This may sound a bit Orwellian, but in countries like Italy, India, and Brazil, quarantine enforcement is proving to be a major public health challenge. Automated drones could help take the load off, and let law enforcement know where people aren’t respecting stay-at-home orders.

The Bottom Line

As the world hunkers down to face this pandemic, it’s time to get creative about how we’ll get through it. Though they can’t do many of the most important jobs during this fight, machines can take a major load off of a heavily strained medical system, and help to make quarantines work through delivery services and monitoring.

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