Skip to main content

Meet the robot helping doctors treat coronavirus patients

There have been five confirmed cases of the quickly spreading coronavirus in the U.S. Doctors have figured out a way to communicate with one of the infected patients without exposing themselves to the virus by using a robot. 

The robot is being used for the patient in Washington state at the Providence Regional Medical Center, according to CNN. Since the coronavirus can transmit from person to person, doctors at the hospital treating the patient have taken extra caution in the form of using a robot. 

“Telehealth devices like the ‘robot’ assist caregivers in performing basic diagnostic functions and allow them to communicate easily with the patient,” Rebecca Bartles, the executive director of system infection prevention at Providence St. Joseph Health, told Digital Trends. “This helps reduce the number of up-close interactions, which in turn minimizes the risk of exposure to caregivers.”

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The robot, known as Vici, was developed by InTouch Health and has a high definition screen and camera, which allows a doctor or a nurse to help a patient without having to come in contact with them. 

Vici is most commonly used for doctors located farther away to be able to chat with and examine their patients, but in this case, it’s for the health and safety of the hospital’s employees. 

“The nursing staff in the room move the robot around so we can see the patient in the screen, talk to him,” Dr. George Diaz, chief of the infectious disease division at Providence, told CNN. “They’re looking for ongoing presence of the virus.”

People are taking extra caution with the coronavirus outbreak since there’s still so much we don’t know about it. What we do know so far is that symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath and that those symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after initial exposure. 

The virus is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China, but there have been confirmed cases in the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, and more. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it would expand screening for coronavirus to a total of 20 U.S. airports

There’s a helpful online tool that brings together reliable data from several organizations from around the world to display the number of confirmed and suspected cases of the coronavirus, as well as deaths. The dashboard is continuously updated as more information about the coronavirus unfolds. 

Editors' Recommendations

Allison Matyus
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Allison Matyus is a general news reporter at Digital Trends. She covers any and all tech news, including issues around social…
Meet Ghost Robotics, the Boston Dynamics of combat bots
ghost robotics military bots ghostrobotics2

“We try not to refer to them as robot dogs,” said Jiren Parikh, the president and chief executive of a Philadelphia-based company called Ghost Robotics. “We refer to them as Q-UGVs: Quadrupedal Unmanned Ground Vehicles.”

Ghost’s Q-UGVs, which look a whole lot like robot dogs, aren’t your average metal mutts. Picture Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot, probably the world’s most famous robotic canine, but in a series of inhospitable environments -- on freezing mountains in the snow, splashing through ditches, scrabbling up flights of steps in a dilapidated building -- rather than in a comfy lab or the gently sloping banks of a Silicon Valley research lab. That’s where Ghost’s ruggedly individualistic dog-bots look at their happiest. Presentations given by Parikh showing off the robots’ capabilities make liberal use of words like “durable” and “unstoppable.”

Read more
Meet RXT-1, the robot punching bag that punches back

Everyone’s a tough guy in the gym until their punching bag starts punching back. That’s the idea behind the RXT-1, described by its creators as the “world’s first sparring robot.”

While it more closely resembles a punchy version of the wacky waving inflatable tube man than a robot Mike Tyson, the RXT-1 could nonetheless be a valuable tool for training boxers and MMA fighters. It does this by not just giving them an approximately person-sized target to aim punches at, but also four foam robot limbs which it uses to strike back, thereby giving the human fighter something to dodge.

Read more
Giving robots a layer of fat could help supercharge their battery life
BYU's Robot King Louie being built by NASA

Structural, rechargeable zinc battery

Robots could be on course to get fatter -- and it’s for their own good. In an effort to solve one of the biggest problems in current robotics, a lack of battery life, researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a new rechargeable zinc battery that could be worn around robots like a layer of fat. This could provide them with up to 72 times more power capacity than they get from today’s commonly used lithium-ion batteries.

Read more