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Hospitals in China are using robots to fight the Wuhan coronavirus

A medical robot at a hospital in Wuhan, China

 

As the coronavirus continues to spreads, hospitals in China are turning to robots for help and are using robots to deliver medicine and communicate with patients over 5G networks. The coronavirus outbreak has pushed the Chinese medical community into overdrive and prompted hospitals across China to quickly adopt robots as medical assistants.

Telepresence robots that allow for patient health monitoring and the safe delivery of medical goods, along with remote video communications are growing in number on hospital floors in urban China. They’re now acting as a safe go-between that helps curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Keenon Robotics Co., a Shanghai-based company, deployed 16 of its “little peanut” robots to a hospital in Hangzhou after a group of Wuhan travelers to Singapore were held in quarantine.

Siasun Robot and Automation Co. donated seven medical robots and 14 catering service robots to the Shenyang Red Cross to help hospitals combat the virus.


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The “Little Peanut” robot being used at a shoptial to deliver medicine to a patient


Another company, JD.com Inc. is testing the use of autonomous delivery robots in Wuhan, while local media across have reported robots being used in hospitals in Wuhan, as well as hospitals in Guangzhou, Jiangxi, Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin.

The rapid spread of the coronavirus has left provincial hospitals straining to cope and helped accelerate the embrace of robots as one solution, turning the gadgets into medical assistants.

These new medical and delivery robots join China’s technology response to the coronavirus outbreak, which includes airborne drones, medical robots and work-from-home apps.

China’s deployment of fifth-generation wireless networks in areas around urban hospitals has also seen a rise in 5G-powered medical robots - equipped with cameras that allow remote video communication and patient monitoring. These are in contrast to robots like little peanut, whose primary function is to make indoor deliveries.

Nikkie Lu, an intelligence analyst for Bloomberg noted that, “The technology of robots used in Chinese hospitals isn’t high, but what this virus is highlighting – and it could be the next stage of Chinese robots – is the use of medical robot deployment.”

Another type of medical robot that is being tested in hospitals, are “cleaning robots that carry a disinfectant tank on board and will be used to safely clean hospital areas along a predetermined route. China Mobile Ltd. donated one 5G robot to the Wuhan Union Hospital and the Tongji Tianyou Hospital last week, and both hospitals are now using these robots.

The increased quantity of robots deployed to combat the coronavirus has helped accelerate China’s path to the goal it had already set for itself in robotics, to become one of the world’s top 10 most intensively automated nations by the end of 2020.

 

 

 

 

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