How Boston Dynamics' robot-dog is helping COVID-19 patients
When COVID-19 proliferated in China, we all saw how the country deployed its fleet of robots and drones to test, treat, and inform people more aggressively. Now, the same appears to be happening in the US, where Boston Dynamics' Spot, a popular robot-dog, is leading the charge, helping patients suffering from the disease while protecting health-care workers. Here's all about it.
Helping hospitals triage patients
Following several queries from hospitals, Boston Dynamics' team customized Spot's hardware and software to match the needs of health-care facilities. The company says that the machine has now been deployed at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital where it serves as a telemedicine platform, helping health-care workers triage potential COVID-19 cases without actually being close to them during the assessment.
How Spot helps with remote assessment?
The hardware/software changes made by Boston Dynamics allow Spot to carry an iPad and a two-way radio on its back, which doctors/nurses use to talk to patients and check their condition. This way, by remotely directing the robot through triage tents, they can examine long queues of potential COVID-19 patients, without exposing themselves to the dangerous coronavirus or wasting the limited supply of PPE.
More work planned for the bots
Spot's work allows health-care workers to check patients even from their homes, but to be more effective at this job, the machine needs to have the ability to collect vitals like body temperature, respiratory rate, and pulse. For this, the company is exploring a range of options, including the use of thermal camera technology as well as RGB cameras.
Even surface disinfection might be possible
Among other things, Boston Dynamics hopes to attach a UV-C light or some other technology to Spot's back, allowing the machine to disinfect surfaces in public spaces like triage tents or hospitals. "We are still in the early stages of developing this solution but also see a number of existing mobile robotics providers who have implemented this technology specifically for hospitals," the company says.
Goal to spread this technology to other robotic platforms
Boston Dynamics has open-sourced the work done on Spot to make sure that all other mobile robotics platforms, even those operating on wheels, can leverage their software and hardware to help health workers on the front line.Share this timeline