As the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelms healthcare systems and devastates economies all over the world, there has never been a greater need for advances in science and technology. As a leading automation systems integrator, we’re following these developments with great interest. Scientists and engineers around the world propose that robots could be an essential support for humans in fighting the virus by performing tasks that would otherwise put human workers at risk, speed up the production of test kits, and other critical supplies through automation.
MIT roboticist Kate Darling notes that machines helping humans do their jobs has plenty of precedent in this piece published recently on Wired.com. “ATMs allowed banks to expand teller services,” she says. “Bomb disposal robots let soldiers keep more distance between themselves and danger.”
The COVID-19 crisis is not the first time scientists have recognized the potential role robotics could have in combating infectious diseases. According to ScienceRobotics, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation identified three areas where robotics can make a difference during the 2015 Ebola outbreak: clinical care, logistics, and reconnaissance (monitoring compliance with voluntary quarantines). “
Some countries and organizations have already embraced the technology to overcome the massive challenges caused by the pandemic. Here are just a few examples of how automation and robots could be used to fight COVID-19 by reducing the workload of overburdened essential workers and help prevent the spread of the virus.
⎹ Collecting patient samples and automating lab tests.
⎹ Allow doctors and nurses to treat patients remotely.
⎹ Enable experts all over the world to perform medical tasks and contribute to research without having to travel.
⎹ Using automation to make COVID-19 testing more efficient.
⎹ Automate cleaning and food preparation jobs that are currently put humans at risk.
⎹ Disinfect potentially contaminated surfaces in healthcare facilities and public spaces either using UV light that kills bugs or by repurposing agricultural robots and drones to spray disinfectant.
Click here to see more ways robots are being used to minimize the spread of COVID-19 around the world.
In addition to fighting the pandemic, robots are being utilized around the world to help keep the economy and infrastructure intact by tackling the many logistical challenges created by the crisis and carrying out crucial deliveries of food and medication without exposing humans while some grocery stores are beginning to use robots to keep shelves stocked.
While robotics and automation cannot replace the advanced skills and the quick life-or-death decision making required from health care workers, scientists and engineers around the globe believe that the technology can go a long way to help human workers stay safe and fight the virus. See some additional resources below to learn more about the important role robotics and automation will play in this crisis.
PRE-TEC, a division of WVCO, is a leading automation systems integrator specializing in turn-key material handling solutions. For more than thirty years, we have been building Flexible Automated Solutions designed around our customer’s specific production needs. The PRE-TEC engineers can provide more information about our services and custom robotic technologies. Contact us today for an engineering review of your needs.