The Corona Virus Disease(COVID-19) is a respiratory disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Ever since its inception in the wet markets of Wuhan in China, its spread has been immense, affecting almost every country in the world. This was also the case in India. The spread of the virus was significantly reduced as our PM announced a nationwide lockdown.

As soon as the lockdown was established across the country, people used creative methods to spread awareness regarding the situation. A CoronaVirus Tracker dashboard was set up by the government of India to show the statistics. In Chennai, Tamil Nadu, motorcyclists violating the lockdown rules were caught by police wearing helmets that look like the microscopic version of the virus. Various companies like Nestle, Amul, Lifebuoy have come up with innovative advertisements to stress the necessity to wash our hands, stay at our homes and maintain social distancing.

In addition to these, there have been various innovations that are helping us to improve the situation and adhere to the rules and regulations laid down in a better way. Rancho Labs takes a look at how our robotic friends are helping us at the Battlefield against COVID-19.

Robots that help in Sanitisation

With the spread of the virus, it became absolutely essential to maintain proper sanitation of our body and the surroundings. There are various cases of the usage of robots in this regard. In China, Keenon Robotics have introduced disinfection robots to keep the streets of the country sterile. Disinfection Robot UVD were extensively used in Wuhan to control the virus.

Zafi the medical robot, developed by Chennai Stanley Government Hospital provides hand sanitizers to patients and doctors in the hospital. Moving around the hospital with its wheels, this robot reminds us to keep our hands clean and germ-free through its interactive voice-based system. High-tech Driverless sweeping vehicles were used for street cleaning in the Shekou Wanggu Park of China, a major IT park. These robots were developed by EVA robots.

Telemedicine Robots

There has been a surge in the demand for telemedicine services across the USA. Zipnosis, a virtual healthcare company based in Minneapolis, offers a questionnaire to the people to distinguish from common cold, fever and the coronavirus. These help in screening people virtually, reducing the need to go to hospitals.

Mitra is a humanoid robot developed by Invento Robotics. Fortis Hospital in Bengaluru have been using this robot to screen the people in the hospital. This was introduced as a preventive measure to reduce the risk of infection spread and to protect the doctors. With an interactive display, the robot takes the temperature, checks for symptoms thus reducing the manual interaction between doctors and suspected Covid-19 patients.

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Delivery Robots in Hospitals

Robots developed by Asimov Robotics,which is a startup incubated at the Kerala Startup Mission (KSUM), are helping in transporting food, medicines and supplies to the isolation wards. This three-wheeled robot is significantly reducing the contact between coronavirus patients and nurses, doctors. The Indian Railways have also devised a solution of their own. Tweeted by Piyush Goyal on April 24,2020, this remote controlled device is used to carry supplies inside the hospital and is also successful in avoiding contact and maintain distancing.

Park-Patrolling Robot Dog

It was a calm and serene day at the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park in Singapore on 8th May, 2020. There were senior citizens sitting on the benches of the park, people basking under the sun, human beings jogging around the park and trodding amidst them was a robotic dog.

Wait what? A robotic dog in a park?

Yes, people SPOTted this bizarre and creepy robot dog going up and down the 3km stretch in the park. SPOT, the robotic dog, was developed by the People at Boston Dynamicswho are considered to be one of the pioneers in robotics. The structure consists of the body and the limbs of a dog with a camera and sensors attached with it. It plays a recorded message to remind people to maintain social distancing.

With the ability to be remotely controlled, it reduces the need for police or authorities to ensure social distancing. There were signs all over the park requesting people not to disturb the Dog with a mission. The Singaporean government is trialing the SPOT robot with a view to make it a regular feature of parks. See it in action.

Robotics

Drones for Surveillance

You may have seen these creepy flying objects(not the UFOs). These drones can be controlled remotely and provide a good advantage in monitoring people. Police have already adopted drones as a tool to monitor communities around the world. In Germany, Kazakhstan, China, France, and other countries, drones are flying near to crowds and playing recorded messages.

In India, they have been used in various cities too. In Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, there were a few boys playing Cricket. What could possibly be wrong? The boys somehow forgot that they needed to stay at their homes. The TamilNadu police used a drone camera to survey the ground and upon seeing the drone, the boys took to one’s heel to avoid being captured by the drone and subject to police action. Drones are also helping the Kanpur police to maintain social distancing at Kalamna market.

Food Delivery Robots

DoorDash is a food delivery and takeover app, more like Swiggy and Zomato, operating in major cities across the USA. There were significant concerns regarding the drivers being susceptible to the virus. Hence, they’ve gone ahead and introduced their food delivery robot.

It looks like a box with six wheels on it and a flag post attached to it. It is surrounded with cameras which offer the robot a 360-degree view. I know what you’re thinking, it is easy to kidnap the robot and steal the food isn’t it. Unfortunately that’s not the case, the compartment is locked and only the receiver with a link could open the box. Well, that is indeed smart. Watch it deliver.

UV Cleaning Robots

Ultra-Violet(UV) Rays are nowadays commonly used to disinfect floors, walls and objects in places like hospitals. Though they are proven to destroy various viruses and microbes, it is not yet confirmed that it does the same for the coronavirus. UV rays are dangerous when the human skin is exposed to it and this calls for a more effective and risk-free way to implement this method.

Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Robotics LLC have been suppliers of floor cleaning robots to the Pittsburgh International Airport and due to the Coronavirus situation, they have attached UV lights to the bottom of the robots so that the floor is disinfected as and when it is cleaned. See how it works.

The New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans on using UV Rays to kill the coronavirus on subways and buses. Hence robots could be used for this purpose.

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Conclusion

The introduction of newer and better technologies reassures the fact that everything is gonna be fine. Rather than looking at the distressing side, focus on the positives. If you are reading this blog by staying inside your home, you are in a better situation than most people in India. You could use this time to upskill, pursue that new interest, spend more time with your loved ones and so on.

Thousands of people have recovered even without a vaccine. The probability of dying is very very less for people below 60 and for the senior citizens, it isn’t too worse. As important as it is to practise social distancing, staying at home and washing your hands, it is more important to keep a calm mind and do not panic and feel depressed.

Helpline numbers are established to help the people. If you ever need someone to talk with, we at Rancho Labs are more than pleased to do that. This is a period of time that offers you a chance to either make it or break it. If you wish to make it and do something productive during quarantine, check out the courses offered by us and Learn with RanchoLabs

Vignesh Hariharan

The author is a student of SSN College of Engineering pursuing his Bachelors in Computer Science and Engineering. He is a Product Management and Cloud Computing enthusiast. Passionate about Football and watching Manchester City play. Loves to read Agatha Christie and other thriller novels. He writes on Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Space Science for Rancho Labs.