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How Robots And Drones Around The World Are Helping Humans Deal With The Coronacrisis

© Erhan Astam/ Unsplash

“Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.” – Melvin Kranzberg

In times when physical contact is to be minimized, supplies are still to be distributed, and some jobs have become too risky for humans, robots from all over the world have been found useful in the fight against the coronavirus. Use cases go from drone delivery of food and medicine through automated disinfection and assistance in elderly care homes to more controversial activities like sensing the body temperature of individuals in public places – and below are some interesting examples of how robots are used to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help medical workers.

Blue Ocean Robotics is a producer of autonomous disinfection robots. The company has developed a self-driving robotic platform that uses UV light to deal with diseases, viruses, and bacteria in hospitals. Once it has been provided with a route via an app, the robot can move from room to room by itself, open doors, or take the elevator.  In 2016, the Danish robotics provider spun-off UVD Robots, focused on the commercialization of robotics-based UV Disinfection solutions for hospitals

How is the company helping with the coronacrisis?

Since February robots have been deployed to more than 2000 hospitals in China as wells in Rome and Northern Italy to assure adequate disinfection, safeguarding both patients and hospital staff.

Cloudminds is a company that has developed an end-to-end cloud robotics system that is advertised as capable of operating millions of robots at the same time. It combines cloud intelligence infrastructure with robot bodies to provide robo-services for various use cases –  hotel or hospital reception, security, vending machine or advanced skills for humanoid robots like Pepper. Capabilities include Natural Language Processing (NLP), Computer Vision (CV), navigation, and vision-controlled manipulation.

How is the company helping with the coronacrisis?

Cloudminds donated robots normally worth between $17,000 and 72, 000 to several medical facilities in China. An infrared thermometry system has been used to check the temperature of people entering Wuhan Wuchang Smart Field Hospital – whenever a person with fever symptoms arrives – the medical staff is alerted. Some of the other robots deployed include a humanoid called Ginger helping with hospital admissions and a delivery robot used to bring food and medicine to patients reducing direct person-to-person contact.

Terra Drone is a provider of industrial drone solutions, including aerial surveys, infrastructure inspection, and drone data processing. 

How is the company helping with the coronacrisis?

Terra Drone’s subsidiary Antwork has deployed drones to transport medical samples and quarantine materials between hospitals and disease control centers in China, reducing physical contact between samples and staff, and increasing the speed of delivery.

Pudutech is a Chinese company that develops meal delivery robots, used across multiple verticals – catering, restaurants, hotels.

How is the company helping with the coronacrisis?

Hospitals from over 10 hospitals in China have used Pudutech’s autonomous robot to deliver food and necessities to patients in isolation.

TMiRob develops robots designed to improve the efficiency of hospital operations. The robots are used for a wide range of activities – delivery of infusion packages, instrument distribution, cabinet management, as well as disposal of medical waste. 

How is the company helping with the coronacrisis?

The Shanghai-based startup has deployed 30 disinfection robots across hospitals in Wuhan.

Rocos has a cloud-based platform that enables developers to remotely control, monitor, and support the operations of fleets of robots.

How is the company helping with the coronacrisis?

Rocos is giving away free onboarding and credits to its Robot Operations Platform to companies that use robotics to tackle COVID-19.

SkyCell is a provider of pharmaceutical containers with cooling technology (hardware, software, big data) that ensures minimal temperature deviations during transportation. The containers also come with IoT sensors that enable global monitoring and tracking.

How is the company helping with the coronacrisis?

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, SkyCell has used its transportation pallets to safely deliver 46 tons of medications to China.

Draganfly Innovations is a manufacturer of quadcopter drones. In 1999, the company launched the first commercialized quadrotor UAV. Its solutions are used across multiple industries – public safety, energy, agriculture, military, insurance.

How is the company helping with the coronacrisis?

Back in February, Draganfly had discussions with a government different from the Chinese to produce drones equipped with infrared sensors that can detect coronavirus symptoms in crowds. 

Temi is a company that creates and sells interactive personal robotic assistants that integrate smart home devices, online content, and video communications.

How is the company helping with the coronacrisis?

Temi has been used to measure the temperature of patients with coronavirus symptoms, bring hand sanitizers  and connect isolated elderly citizens with their families.

MicroMultiCopter Aero Technology Co researches and develops multi-rotor drones for remote sensing, traffic management, aerial photography and a number of other use cases. 

How is the company helping with the coronacrisis?

MicroMultiCopter deployed over 100 drones to cities in China to observe crowds and identify people not wearing masks. Through thermal sensing, people with elevated body temperature were also detected. Another use cases have involved  the broadcasting of information to larger areas and disinfectant spraying in public places.

Shanghai SIASUN Robot & Automation is one of the largest robotics manufacturers in China. It produces mainly robot machinery for industrial purposes. It’s been reported that the company plans to utilize 5G and object avoidance technologies with its robots to enable services like human-computer interaction and facial recognition.

How is the company helping with the coronacrisis?

Siasun Robot and Automation Co. donated seven medical robots and 14 catering robots to the Shenyang Red Cross to help hospitals deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

Neolix is a Chinese manufacturer of autonomous delivery trucks. The company reported that the demand for self-driving vehicles has increased significantly since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

How is the company helping with the coronacrisis?

During the crisis, Neolix’s vans have been used to deliver medical supplies to hospitals, bring food to frontline workers, and disinfect streets.

Zorabots designs and develops robot platforms for use in hotels, healthcare, and retail.

How is the company helping with the coronacrisis?

The Belgium-based company lended 60 of its robots to elderly care homes to help residents connect with their families after visits were banned to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The machines can move from room to room by themselves and initiate video calls on received voice command.

Dimer UVC Innovations is another company providing robotic UVC light disinfection solutions but its focus is on airlines. The company has developed a robot that’s designed to navigate airplane cabins and kills viruses and bacteria.

How is the company helping with the coronacrisis?

The company is providing its GermFalcon robot for free to contribute to emergency response efforts in the area of several US airports – LAX (Los Angeles), SFO (San Francisco), and JFK (New York City).

JD.com is a high-tech e-commerce company, which possesses the largest drone delivery system in the world and is dubbed as the ‘Amazon of China’. It is currently testing robotic delivery services, working on drone delivery airports, and developing driverless trucks.

How is the company helping with the coronacrisis?

Besides drone delivery of supplies, according to CNN, the company has promised to open over 20, 000 new positions, some of which temporary, to ‘minimize the impact of the epidemic on employment’. 

Scoutbee has created a platform that relies on machine learning to help businesses source, identify, and onboard suppliers. In January, the Berlin-based startup closed a $60m Series B investment round.

How is the company helping with the coronacrisis?

Last week Scoutbee announced that is ready to support NGOs, public bodies, and medical or pharmaceutical organizations with urgent sourcing needs such as that of medical equipment and supplies. 

+++To explore even more companies using technology to fight the coronavirus, you can check out Dealroom’s landscape overview.

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