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Study finds 195 robot deployments worldwide in response to the pandemic

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Over 66 completely different sorts of “social” robots have been piloted in hospitals, well being facilities, airports, workplace buildings, and different private and non-private areas in response to the pandemic, in response to a study from researchers on the Autonomous University of Barcelona and Pompeu Fabra University. Their survey of 195 robotic deployments throughout 35 nations together with China, the U.S., Thailand, and Hong Kong discovered “clear expansion” in the usage of robots that carry out roles straight addressing the necessity for distancing and bodily isolation, like those who help hospital workers and ship meals.

It’s not shocking the worsening COVID-19 well being disaster is hastening the adoption of sure robots and drones. They require disinfection however promise to reduce the chance of spreading illness, which is vital in well being care settings. The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control estimates that well being care employees characterize over 25% of identified COVID-19 circumstances in some elements of the world.

“Physical distancing and isolation measures adopted worldwide to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic provide an unprecedented opportunity for social robots to be implemented in real settings,” the researchers wrote. “The critical role that robots could play in public health during disaster situations has long been highlighted. Noticeably, applying physical distancing is not always a valid option and, when it cannot be guaranteed, it can lead to devastating consequences.”

The coauthors outline social robots as these able to speaking with and directing social cues towards people — in different phrases, robots that work together with people. They study every by means of the lens of roles the robots are fulfilling throughout the pandemic:

  • Robots as liaisons in duties that require human-human interplay
  • Robots as safeguards that reduce an infection threat
  • Robots as well-being coaches that entertain and information quarantined sufferers by means of remedy

To determine pandemic-related deployments, the researchers canvassed over 1,000 sources between March and June together with media retailers, tech blogs, robotic builders and suppliers’ web sites and social media accounts, analysis papers and stories, case research, and robotics group publications. They created a database with all of the deployments that met a set of inclusion standards, they usually categorized every in response to the robots’ names, capabilities, and bodily environments.

Hospitals led the checklist of deployments by quantity with 104 in whole, adopted by nursing houses (24), transportation (13), faculties and universities (9), airports (8), accommodations (8), parks and streets (8), eating places (6), workplace buildings (5), purchasing malls (5), shops (3), and freeway checkpoints (1). In phrases of geography, China had the very best focus with 56 deployments, adopted by the U.S. (34), Thailand (20), Belgium (14), Hong Kong (13), India (10), and the Netherlands (5).

Forty-two of the 195 deployments worldwide employed robots for “reception-related” duties like affected person or buyer registration, contactless check-ins and check-outs, and appointment reserving. Between 18 and 49 deployments focused COVID-19 prediagnostic and affected person monitoring capabilities. One of the most typical functions was telepresence with 83 deployments, largely as a manner for sufferers and residents in nursing houses to be in contact with relations.

“Social robots are developing a particularly outstanding role in hospitals supporting staff, where they contribute to reduce the workload and ensure the safety of the healthcare personnel performing functions associated with receptionist, pre-diagnosis, food delivery, telepresence, or monitoring, among others,” the researchers famous. “They have also gained acceptance as social companions to palliate the effects of isolation, especially in nursing homes.”

Ninety-four deployments and 36 varieties of robots needed to do with supply — numbers which seem like rising. Amazon, KiwiBot, Starship Technologies, Nuro, and Postmates proceed to ferry meals to clients autonomously throughout the pandemic, as does startup Refraction AI and Moscow-based tech large Yandex. A better variety of deployments — 118 — had been devoted to “ensuring risk-free environments,” for instance by offering security recommendation, implementing protecting measures, surveilling and patrolling, and disinfecting. And 63 deployments sought to advertise bodily and psychological well-being in “companion,” leisure, or medical steerage capacities.

The researchers assert the deployments have already led to better acceptance of robots as an entire. However, they characterize their potential to behave as well-being coaches as “underdeveloped” in contrast with different use circumstances, mainly as a result of a number of the robots they recognized haven’t been tailored to pandemic-related challenges.

“An aspect to highlight is that most functions that we identified were technically available before the pandemic. But the relevance of these functions is now boosted due to the needs brought by the sanitary crisis and are now specifically adapted to a situation that demands physical distancing and isolation,” the coauthors wrote. “There is clear room for improvement in the field of social robots that can provide aid to support more effectively patients under isolation during the pandemic.”

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