Say Aaah

China Is Using Robots to Administer COVID Tests

The robotic arm can take throat swabs at an extraordinary pace.

Image by Euronews

Residents in Shenyang, China are being tested for COVID-19 by a plastic-wrapped robotic arm, Euronews reports. The goal of the arm, which is being controlled by a health worker from the next room, is to minimize contact and reduce the risk of cross contamination between people.

The disembodied arm is capable of taking a throat swab — a routine yet delicate medical procedure. The person being tested simply open their mouth and bites down on a contraption to make sure they remain motionless while the robot does its work.

A robotic voice will even tell the person being tested to say “aaah.”

The robot, dubbed Lingcai, is part of a greater mass testing campaign to battle an ongoing outbreak in the surrounding Liaoning province, according to Euronews.


Officials are hoping the robot will reduce the risk of cross-infection and even increase the rate of testing. According to Chinese state-owned newspaper the Global Times, the robot can even automatically register the subjects’ information to both speed up the process and ensure sampling authenticity.

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