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Technology to the rescue: Using robots and drones to contain coronavirus

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Technology to the rescue: Using robots and drones to contain coronavirus article image

More than 30 disinfection robots designed and produced by Shanghai based medical robot developer, TMiRob, are being utilised in Wuhan, centre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, to contain the spread of the epidemic.

The robots are used in the isolation wards, ICUs, operating rooms and fever clinics of Wuhan’s major coronavirus hospitals to provide around the clock disinfection.

TMiRob’s white robot has a hydrogen peroxide sprayer on its “head” and nine ultraviolet lamps in its “belly”. according to TMiRob Chief Executive Pan Jing, the robot can perform multiple forms of disinfection in environments where humans and machines co-exist.

Navigation technology enables the robot to avoid obstacles autonomously, Pan added.

Robots are increasingly being deployed at the front lines of China’s fight against the epidemic in order to reduce cross-infection risks and improve efficiency.

This week robot maker CloudMinds and China Mobile’s Shanghai branch donated the first batch of 5G-powered robots to a Shanghai hospital. Using the 5G network, the robots help medical staff carry out tasks involving consultations, disinfection, cleaning and drug delivery.

Robot manufacturer Siasun and the Shenyang Institute of Automation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences are also developing a robot that can replace nurses in conducting throat testing for the virus.

Using drones to fight the coronavirus

Shenzhen MicroMultiCopter (MMC) is also helping to fight the coronavirus through its unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) prevention solutions which aim to reduce the risk of the virus spreading among front-line staff.

MMC has invested a service team of over 200 people and deployed over 100 drones in many cities including Shanghai, Guangzhou, Zhaoqing.

"At first, our drones are used only in aerial broadcasting, [but] it goes deeper in front-line use since the situation is getting more serious, further functions are required so we quickly formed an online R&D team and carried out the solutions,” MMC Chairman, Lu Zhihui, said.

MMC drones provide services such as aerial broadcasting, disinfectant spraying, aerial thermal sensing, and traffic control:

Aerial broadcasting

Unlike artificial patrolling, MMC drones provide 360-degree coverage and observe ground conditions using 40x zoom cameras. The drones feature onboard megaphones, allowing commanders to find and disperse both crowds and those who do not wear masks in public spaces.

Daily broadcasting by drones is carried out in different communities.

Disinfectant spraying

MMC drones are used to spray disinfectant in public places, from stations, supermarkets to small courtyards. The use of drones reduces the need for manual disinfection, thus reducing direct contact, especially in places that require regular disinfection.

Aerial thermal sensing

Drones with thermal cameras use high-accuracy infrared technology to automatically sense each person. This technology has been widely used in crowded areas to assist in onsite management and evacuation.

Traffic control

Since February 1, MMC teams have been working with traffic police to monitor the traffic flow. The drones have larger coverage than fixed cameras and allow commanders to figure out solutions quickly.

"Unlike previous years where we must drive to patrol and gather information, we can now discover everything using drones", said a local traffic police officer.

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