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It’s during times like these that inspire innovation. Like robots in the medical field, like this post.


In that spirit, the “Fighting Germs” contest is here to not only reward that innovation ─ but also give to other charities for those attempting the same thing! It’s fun, it’s beneficial.


They say the best time to plant a tree is thirty years ago. The next best time is today.



Spot allows healthcare workers to communicate with infected patients from a safe distance using an iPad and two-way radio. (Image Credit: Boston Dynamics) 


Boston Dynamics is well-known for its four-legged Spot robot, which is capable of performing a variety of tasks, but now they're being put on the frontline to keep healthcare workers safe from the COVID-19 crisis. On April 23rd, Boston Dynamics announced its Spot robots are being used at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, where they allow healthcare workers to remotely triage patients. The company hopes its open-source tech will be implemented on other mobile robotic platforms around the world.


Boston Dynamics' Spot robot is equipped with an iPad, and a two-way radio mounted on its back, which will allow healthcare providers to video call with infected patients as the workers remotely guide the robot through tents. This setup enables doctors to communicate with the patients from a safer area, and possibly in their own homes. For each intake shift completed by a teleoperated robot, at least one healthcare worker can reduce their risk of contracting the virus while preserving the limited supply of protective equipment.


In order to provide additional services to healthcare workers, the company stated that Spot still needs to collect vital sign information from infected patients. This includes body temperature, respiratory rate, pulse rate, and oxygen saturation. Boston Dynamics has also been in contact with researchers who use thermal camera technology to calculate respiratory rate and measure body temperature. Additionally, the company has also applied externally developed logic to externally mounted RGB cameras, which can capture blood-vessel contraction changes to measure pulse rate.  They are also testing different methods to measure oxygen saturation.


Boston Dynamics hopes to attach a UV-C light or other similar technology to Spot's back, which could kill particles of the virus and disinfect surfaces in spaces that require decontamination like hospital tens or metro stations. A number of mobile robot providers have already developed this tech specifically for hospitals.


Even though the Spot robot is being used at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Dynamics also says the software and hardware technology is better suited for tracked or wheeled robots. The company hopes that other mobile robotic platform will use this system to help keep healthcare workers safe. It's also discussing plans with Clearpath, a Canadian firm, to help make the technology available to others.


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