Robot manufacturer Boston Dynamics has found a new job for its robot dog Spot Mini amidst the coronavirus outbreak: Modified Spot robots, outfitted with iPads, are now letting doctors walk into the rooms of coronavirus patients without risking infection.
Hospitals have been asking the company for help with remote health.
“Based on these conversations, as well as the global shortage of critical personal protective equipment (PPE), we have spent the past several weeks trying to better understand hospital requirements to develop a mobile robotics solution with our robot, Spot,” the company wrote in an update. “The result is a legged robot application that can be deployed to support frontline staff responding to the pandemic in ad-hoc environments such as triage tents and parking lots.”
The goal is to limit the number of medical staff being placed in danger of catching the virus.
“With the use of a mobile robot, hospitals are able to reduce the number of necessary medical staff at the scene and conserve their limited PPE supply,” the update reads.
A Spot Mini is already helping out at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where it’s being used as “a mobile telemedicine platform, allowing healthcare providers to remotely triage patients.”
In other words, an iPad mounted to the top of the robot allows it to be turned into an ersatz doctor, as pictures of a modified Spot suggest.
Boston Dynamics is now trying to figure out how to add the ability to remotely measure things like body temperature, pulse, and oxygen saturation.
With the help of a UV-C light, they’re also hoping Spot could be used to kill viruses in a room that’s in need of decontamination.
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