COVID-19 should be Wake-Up Call for Robotics Research

Robots could perform some of the "dull, dirty and dangerous" jobs associated with combating the COVID-19 pandemic, but that would require many new capabilities not currently being funded or developed, an editorial in the journal Science Robotics argues.

The editorial, published today and signed by leading academic researchers including Carnegie Mellon University's Howie Choset, said robots conceivably could perform such tasks as disinfecting surfaces, taking temperatures of people in public areas or at ports of entry, providing social support for quarantined patients, collecting nasal and throat samples for testing, and enabling people to virtually attend conferences and exhibitions.

In each case, the use of robots could reduce human exposure to pathogens - which will become increasingly important as epidemics escalate.

"The experiences with the (2015) Ebola outbreak identified a broad spectrum of use cases, but funding for multidisciplinary research, in partnership with agencies and industry, to meet these use cases remains expensive, rare and directed to other applications," the researchers noted in the editorial.

"Without a sustainable approach to research, history will repeat itself, and robots will not be ready for the next incident," they added.

In addition to Choset, a professor in CMU's Robotics Institute and one of the founding editors of Science Robotics, the authors of the editorial include Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Science; Robin Murphy of Texas A&M University; Henrik Christensen of the University of California, San Diego; and former CMU faculty member Steven Collins, now at Stanford University.

Choset stressed that the idea behind the editorial wasn't solely to prescribe how robots might be used in a pandemic.

"Rather, we hope to inspire others in the community to conceive of solutions to what is a very complicated problem," he explained.

Choset also emphasized that, like robots, artificial intelligence could help in responding to epidemics and pandemics. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon, for instance, are performing research to address humanitarian aid and disaster response. For that task, they envision a combination of AI and robotics technologies, such as drones. Human-robot interaction, automated monitoring of social media, edge computing and ad hoc computer networks are among the technologies they are developing.

Guang-Zhong Yang, Bradley J Nelson, Robin R Murphy, Howie Choset, Henrik Christensen, Steven H Collins, Paolo Dario, Ken Goldberg, Koji Ikuta, Neil Jacobstein, Danica Kragic, Russell H Taylor, Marcia McNutt.
Combating COVID-19 - The role of robotics in managing public health and infectious diseases.
Science Robotics, Vol. 5, Issue 40, 2020. doi: 10.1126/scirobotics.abb5589.

Most Popular Now

AI Predicts Lung Cancer Risk

An artificial intelligence (AI) program accurately predicts the risk that lung nodules detected on screening CT will become cancerous, according to a study published in the journal Radiology. Lung cancer is...

EU Health Policy Platform Calls for Prop…

The European Commission is inviting public health stakeholders to submit initiatives for anew cycle of Thematic Networks under the EU Health Policy Platform. The purpose of a Thematic Network is...

What Next for Social Care?

Highland Marketing's advisory board welcomed Jane Brightman, social care lead at Institute of Health and Social Care Management, to discuss the sector and its technology needs. A lot of hope...

Philips Introduces the New Spectral Comp…

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, today announced its newest solution for precision diagnosis with the global introduction of its spectral detector-based Spectral Computed...

Web-Based System Developed to Give Care …

Black Country Pathology Services has worked with CliniSys to create the ICE Portal, a web-based application that makes it easy for care homes, or other community care settings, to be...

Grand Challenge Research Harnesses AI to…

Breast cancer has recently overtaken lung cancer to become the most common cancer globally, according to the World Health Organization. Advancing the fight against breast cancer, the BreastPathQ Challenge was...

UCSF Improves Fetal Heart Defect Detecti…

UC San Francisco researchers have found a way to double doctors' accuracy in detecting the vast majority of complex fetal heart defects in utero - when interventions could either correct...

EU4Health Programme: Regulation (EU) 202…

The Programme should be a means of promoting actions in areas where there is a Union added value that can be demonstrated. Such actions should include, inter alia, strengthening...

MEDICA 2021 + COMPAMED 2021: Medical Tec…

15 - 18 November 2021, Düsseldorf, Germany. The date for the globally leading live platforms for the medical technology industry remains a fixed feature in everybody's calendar this year too. The...

New AI Technology Protects Privacy

Digital medicine is opening up entirely new possibilities. For example, it can detect tumors at an early stage. But the effectiveness of new AI algorithms depends on the quantity and...

GP use of Tech Helps Prevent Prescribing…

Academic analysis shows primary care prescribers have been preventing adverse drug reactions, harm and hospital admissions through safer prescribing, after using prescribing tech. The company behind the system also reveals...