Image by Futurism

A team of engineers built a new robot that can automate one of the unsightlier parts of coronavirus medical work: jabbing a cotton swab as far as it can go up a patient's nose.

The robot, developed by the Korea Institute of Machinery & Materials (KIMM) under the Ministry of Science and ICT, braces itself against a patient's face while a technician in the other room remote controls a disposable swab, like the one used for a COVID-19 test.

"This technology allows samples to be retrieved from persons presenting symptoms of high-risk diseases even without direct contact," Dr. Joonho Seo of KIMM said in a press release. "I expect it to be useful in the screening of high-risk diseases like COVID-19, and hope it will contribute to the safety and well-being of medical personnel during pandemics and epidemics."

It's a smart idea: limiting potential coronavirus transmission by reducing how much medical workers actually interact with patients. But on the other hand, it's hard to get past the look of abject shock and horror on the mannequin's face while it gets probed.

Blink twice if you need help. Credit: Korea Institute of Machinery & Materials (KIMM)

This horrifying apparatus is far from the first new robot built to help automate hospitals. Ever since the pandemic began, doctors and engineers have been looking for ways to offload work onto robotic helpers in order to minimize the chances that they catch COVID-19 while treating their patients.

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READ MORE: Team develops remote specimen collection robot [National Research Council of Science & Technology]