Boston Dynamics has revealed that its robotic dogs are being used by hospitals in the United States to treat COVID-19 patients telematically.
The robotic dogs developed by Boston Dynamics are the new tools available to doctors at Brigham And Women’s Hospital in Boston, USA.
Originally these quadruped robots were designed for rescue and transport tasks, as an ally in difficult situations capable of carrying medicines and tools even in the most difficult areas.
Boston Dynamics engineers did not think that they could be used in hospitals; in fact, they have been used more for prank videos and for pulling trucks than for actual medical work. But the coronavirus changed everything.
Robotic dogs to treat COVID-19
Since at the beginning of March, the company received requests and doubts from hospitals about the possible application of its robots in the event of a health crisis, which finally arrived. That forced the engineers to react quickly, implementing changes to the already manufactured Spot so they could fulfill the required tasks.
One of the most notable changes with the naked eye is the inclusion of central support for an iPad tablet, which using a video call app would allow doctors to check the status of patients without having to be present. In this way, they do not risk being infected by the coronavirus if it is not absolutely necessary to be present.
This idea is not new, but the Spot is especially capable of carrying out this task, thanks to its ability to walk on all four legs in an agile and natural way; It is not only able to identify obstacles but also to avoid them. The arm versions are even capable of opening doors on their own. The great advantage of using legs is that the Spot is able to access areas that would normally be inaccessible to a wheeled robot.
Lots of potential
At the moment, the Spot only performs communication functions, and the truth is that it would be too big an investment for a hospital to buy a robot so advanced just for that.
But Boston Dynamics is taking advantage of this opportunity to better understand what the healthcare sector would need from a similar robot, in order to implement it with new modules; Among the new developments are modules capable of detecting vital signs such as temperature, pulse, or respiration. In addition, an ultraviolet light could also be included to disinfect your surroundings while walking from one side to the other.
This crisis can help engineers find new uses for existing technologies.