Simplicity does not generally come to mind when thinking about Boston Dynamics and how it engineers its robots. But the latest application for this robotic dog, Spot could be the easiest, yet most important use yet.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, one of the World’s best hospital has been using Spot for the last weeks as a telemedicine robot. Through an iPad and a 2-way radio mounted on Spots back, medical personnel can freely videoconference with COVID-19 patients.
Patients suspected to have Coronavirus are asked to line up in tends outside to reply questions and get primary assessment for temperature. According to Boston Dynamics, this process needs up to 5 medical staff, placing each of them at high dangerous of contracting the novel Coronavirus.
Boston Dynamics said Spot helps decrease medical staff exposure to Coronavirus. Another hospital that has disused to Boston Dynamics said a 6th of its staff contracted COVID-19 within a one week.
“Depend on the talks, as well as global lack of critical PPE, we have spend the past lots of weeks to excellent understand hospital needs to build up a mobile solution with our robot, Spot,” Boston Dynamics wrote on its blog. The outcome is a legged robot app that can be deployed to support frontline staff responding to the pandemic in ad-hoc atmosphere such as parking lots and triage tents.
As a telepresence system alone, Spot comes with a heavy price tag. And Boston Dynamics admit tracked or wheeled robots may be an excellent solution for these applications. “We developed the payload, hardware and software for this app, so they are skill and capable to be positioned on other mobile mechanical platforms with APIs and ability for custom payloads,” it said.
Actually, this is just the tip of the iceberg for Boston Dynamics when it comes healthcare apps. in a GitHub post, Boston Dynamics documents other potential Coronavirus related job for spot, including:
- Disinfecting rooms and surfaces using UV-C light or other technology mounted on its back.
- Measuring vitals such as oxygen saturation, body temperature, and pulse rate.
- Medicine, delivery of food, and other supplies to patient in quarantine.
Boston Dynamics is open-sourcing spot software, and hardware-related work on GitHub.
“We hope our fellow mobile robot suppliers, existing customers, and medical experts will be capable to use this detail to leverage mobile robots to take people out of problem way during this serious time.”
Spot who originally found fame online for dancing to hit song “Uptown Funk” has also been used to combat Covid by patrolling a Singapore park and ensure people observe social distancing. Spot is being trialled over a three kilometre section of the park.
As he strolls throughout the park, Spot makes use of the cameras mounted on him to estimate the number of current visitors in the park. These cameras and other sensors also ensure that Spot does not bump into people or other objects.
Spot also relays a message that is hoped will ensure park visitors such as joggers and walkers keep their distance in order to minimise the spread of the Coronavirus.
Park visitors will hear Spot’s social distancing message as follows: “For your own safety and for those around you, please stand at least one metre apart. Thank you.”
You can read more about Spot on patrol in Singapore here.
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