Research News: Progress in robotics for combating infectious diseases

Progress in robotics for combating infectious diseases

Anzhu Gao, Robin R. Murphy, Weidong Chen, Giulio Dagnino, Peer Fischer, Maximiliano G. Gutierrez, Dennis Kundrat, Bradley J. Nelson, Naveen Shamsudhin, Hao Su, Jingen Xia, Ajmal Zemmar, Dandan Zhang, Chen Wang, Guang-Zhong Yang


The world was unprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, and recovery is likely to be a long process. Robots have long been heralded to take on dangerous, dull, and dirty jobs, often in environments that are unsuitable for humans. Could robots be used to fight future pandemics? We review the fundamental requirements for robotics for infectious disease management and outline how robotic technologies can be used in different scenarios, including disease prevention and monitoring, clinical care, laboratory automation, logistics, and maintenance of socioeconomic activities. We also address some of the open challenges for developing advanced robots that are application oriented, reliable, safe, and rapidly deployable when needed. Last, we look at the ethical use of robots and call for globally sustained efforts in order for robots to be ready for future outbreaks.


Robotics and automation technologies for infectious diseases. (A) Potential application categories of robots. (B) Different usage scenarios for robotics, illustrating potential applications of robots at each phase of the disease transmission using the colors corresponding with (A). (C) Phases of COVID-19 pandemic showing different critical time periods and the associated usage of robotics.



Institute of Medical Robotics

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