A Massachusetts hospital found another job for Spot, the dog-like robot from Boston Dynamics: Doctor.
The yellow-black four-legged friend has been proven to be able to record the vital functions of patients from a distance of over two meters.
This could allow healthcare workers to keep a safe distance from patients who may be infected with the coronavirus or other contagion.
So far, Spot has only been tested on healthy patients at Harvard Medical School's Brigham and Women & # 39; s Hospital. The next step would be to try it out in an emergency room.
Researchers at MIT have developed cameras that allow Spot, the dog-like robot from Boston Dynamics, to capture vital signs from more than two meters away. The VitalCam could enable health care workers to maintain social distance while patients with COVID-19 are screened
The Boston hospital initially only used Spot as a walking iPad: a tablet attached to his “face” enabled doctors to speak to patients approaching the hospital and examine those who needed immediate care.
According to MIT News, the robot is operated remotely with a handheld device.
However, in a new report, researchers at MIT have shown that Spot can measure heart rate, temperature, and other diagnoses from more than six and a half feet away.
To achieve this, they developed VitalCam, four different cameras that are mounted on Spot.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YvSdbwh41I [/ embed]
Spot's VitalCam contains four different cameras – an infrared camera that measures temperature and respiratory rate, and three others that filter different wavelengths of light to measure pulse and blood oxygen saturation
One infrared camera even measures temperature and respiratory rate through a mask, while three other cameras filter different wavelengths of light to measure pulse rate and blood oxygen saturation.
Spot's capabilities have only been tested on healthy volunteers, but the team says it's ready for real-world use.
If the VitalCam gets FDA approval, it can save time, resources and possibly even life.
"In robotics, one of our goals is to use automation and robotic technology to remove people from dangerous jobs," Henwei Huang, an MIT graduate student working on the project, said in a statement.
"We thought we should be able to use a robot to free health workers from the risk of exposing themselves directly to the patient."
An operator uses Spot with a handheld device to operate Spot across a hospital corridor. "We thought we should be able to use a robot to free health workers from the risk of exposing themselves directly to the patient." said MIT researcher Henwei Huang
The test functions of Spot were only tested on healthy subjects. The next step would be to test it in an emergency room with patients who may have COVID-19
Finally, Spot could be used to allow doctors to continue monitoring patients without going to their rooms.
The study, funded by the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering, was published on the preprint server techRxiv, but has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed medical or scientific journal.
"We are very excited to have formed this industry-science partnership in which scientists with engineering and robotics skills have worked with clinical teams at the hospital to bring sophisticated technologies to bed," said Senior Author Giovanni Traverso, Professor of Mechanical engineer at MIT and a gastroenterologist at Brigham and Women & # 39; s Hospital.
Spot has become more and more useful during the pandemic: the robotic rover has also been used in Singapore to ensure that visits to a local park are within two meters during the pandemic.
Outside of rush hour, Spot patrols a 4-mile strip of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park in Singapore and plays a recorded message reminding listeners to "observe safe distancing measures."
According to the National Parks Board, Spot is patrolling a four-mile portion of Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park during off-peak hours and playing a pre-recorded message reminding listeners to "follow safe distance measures."
A connected camera helps estimate the number of people in the park, although officials say it doesn't record people or track personal information.
After Boston Dynamics made a limited number of spots available last fall, it launched the four-legged robot for commercial sale in June, priced at $ 74,500.