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Nstopinon, China

Robots on pandemic frontlines

#NSTopinon #China’s #robots seem to be stealing the thunder as #AI comes to the fore in #virus pandemic war

7/4/2020 2:45:00 AM

NSTopinon China ’s robots seem to be stealing the thunder as AI comes to the fore in virus pandemic war

However, for the frontliners, they still have to be in close contact with the Covid-19-positive patients, suspected individuals, as well as the general public when carrying out their duties, be it attending to sick patients or screening the suspects. It’s a big sacrifice on their part.

A few countries like China, Italy and Australia have started to deploy AI robots in critical places like hospitals. China, which was the first to be hit by Covid-19, is now deploying robots in hospitals, schools, banks and road intersections.The main reason for deploying these robots is that they, being machines, don’t get tired and sick, and can operate 24/7.

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This is not to say that these robots, which we have probably seen in the hospitality and retail industry to serve patrons, are better than humans, but they are the perfect answer to the overwhelmed hospital systems.One of the companies providing these AI robots is Shenzhen-based UBTECH Robotics, which had its robots deployed in several countries during the pandemic.

The robots are the Atris, Aimbot and Cruzr models.These robots are being used at a Shenzhen hospital for treating Covid-19 patients. They were modified a bit from their retail and hospitality modules to perform tasks that can help frontline workers.These include providing videoconferencing services between patients and doctors, monitoring the body temperatures of visitors and patients, and disinfecting designated areas in the hospital.

With these robots deployed, medical staff could focus on more critical areas of treating patients in serious condition.Built with AI technology, these robots can make rounds in wards and be next to the patients, and using their camera and videoconferencing capability they can let doctors monitor patients remotely.

In China, for instance, the Cruzr robot can track the temperature of 200 people within a minute, and then notify medical staff if someone is infected with the coronavirus.The same robot model has also been tested in Queensland, Australia, at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital to guide patients around the hospital and conduct surveys.

Besides China and Australia, Italy, which has the highest Covid-19 death toll, has started using robots to help doctors and nurses at the Circolo Hospital in Varese, a city in the northern Lombardy region, according to wire agencies.The robot, called Tommy, helps frontliners in monitoring parameters from an equipment in the room, and relays the data to hospital staff. It has a touch-screen “face”, which allows patients to relay messages to doctors.

Use of the robot limits the direct contact doctors and nurses have with patients, hence, reducing the risk of virus transmission.Meanwhile, as China progresses after being hit hard by the pandemic last month, Chinese authorities are now using robots to assist in public monitoring tasks.

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For instance, at the school gates of two major middle schools, the Kunming No. 3 Middle School and Kunming Dianchi Middle School in Yunnan province, southwest of China, students returning from prolonged absence because of Covid-19 are now greeted by a robot instead of a human.

The Aimbot robot takes their temperature and checks if they have worn their face mask correctly. This helps school authorities with the monitoring of the students and reduces cross-infection risks. Aimbot can detect people’s temperature with 99 per cent accuracy up to 3.5m away using infrared technology.

They can also monitor the temperature of up to 15 people at once.These robots also disinfect designated areas, including classrooms, cafeterias and hallways, as well as move around broadcasting coronavirus prevention tips.Robots are also deployed to conduct health and safety checks. For example, staff from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, which is one of the world’s largest banks, can have a temperature check in their cars before going into the ICBC Shenzhen office. Atris, the outdoor patrolling robot, is covering this job now.

These robots are also being used at the intersections of highways in Shenzhen. The Cruzr and Atris have taken the repetitive job of the police to remind drivers of vehicles to register passengers’ information and to take their temperature.Using robots in healthcare is something new and can be expensive to implement, but the benefits are huge and can give a country an advantage in mitigating a pandemic like Covid-19 in a more organised manner.

The writer is Tech Editor of the ‘New Straits Times’ with 25 years of experience covering and writing technology stuff in the consumer, enterprise, telecommunications and emerging technology space Read more: New Straits Times »

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