Autonomous robot designed for Covid secure communications in the hospital

A “telepresence” robot has been designed to allow people with Covid-19 to talk to their loved ones without endangering them.

Designed by researchers at the University of Malaga, the robot has Covid-specific design functions in order to adapt it to pandemic needs and aims to facilitate the work of professionals in retirement homes and hospitals.

“We have allowed people isolated in a room to have a video call with relatives and friends without risk and regardless of their ability to use new technologies,” said researcher Juan Pedro Bandera.

Patients can book a time for a video call using a simple web interface, after which the robot starts up autonomously and goes to the counter to be disinfected. He then goes to their room and initiates the video call at the scheduled time. Once completed, it is disinfected again and recovers.

autonomous covid robot

Image credit: University of Malaga

Just over a meter tall, with a cylindrical or pedestal-shaped body, this robot also has simple expressive abilities, audiovisual communication capability, and is able to move around autonomously.

The team also plans to use it in homes for the aged as an advertiser or provide residents with the ability to share and view photos.

“A social robot who continually crosses between two people talking, who moves too close to them when moving, who moves too fast or abruptly or who stops in a hallway blocking their path will not be accepted and, therefore, will not be useful, “said Bandera.

His team also studied the movement of robots, determining that “smoother” paths tend to decrease energy use and increase social acceptability.

However, they also show that other critical factors need to be taken into account, such as maintaining an adequate distance from people:

“Most likely, a social robot shouldn’t try to move around like humans do. The robot will have to keep a greater distance and avoid sharp turns and speed changes more strictly, as well as erratic trajectories where the destination is difficult to predict, because all these aspects, although satisfying the safety conditions, d ‘efficiency and smoothness, will reduce the considerable acceptance of the robot,’ said Bandera.

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