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Special Interview: Coronavirus Pandemic: A Call to Action for the Robotics Community

Coronavirus Pandemic: A Call to Action for the Robotics Community

World-renowned medical robotics expert Guang-Zhong Yang explains what we can learn from this crisis to prepare for the next one

Erico Guizzo

 

“I ran a lot of the operations for the institute from my hotel room using Zoom,” he told me.

 

Yang is impressed by the different robotic systems being deployed as part of the COVID-19 response. There are robots checking patients for fever, robots disinfecting hospitals, and robots delivering medicine and food. But he thinks robotics can do even more.

 

“Robots can be really useful to help you manage this kind of situation, whether to minimize human-to-human contact or as a front-line tool you can use to help contain the outbreak,” he says. While the robots currently being used rely on technologies that are mature enough to be deployed, he argues that roboticists should work more closely with medical experts to develop new types of robots for fighting infectious diseases.

 

“What I fear is that, there is really no sustained or coherent effort in developing these types of robots,” he says. “We need an orchestrated effort in the medical robotics community, and also the research community at large, to really look at this more seriously.”

 

Yang calls for a global effort to tackle the problem. “In terms of the way to move forward, I think we need to be more coordinated globally,” he says. “Because many of the challenges require that we work collectively to deal with them.”

 

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Institute of Medical Robotics

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