A Chinese professor of Astronautics, Zheng Gangtie from Tsinghua University has introduced two robots, which were designed by researchers in the university, to help in examining Covid-19 disease infected patients that could save numerous lives. The robots, which are under the trial, would be implemented and put into use at the Wuhan Union Hospital if these tests are successful.
Medical Examining Robots
According to a source close to the university, “the new machine consists of a robotic arm on wheels that can perform ultrasounds, take mouth swabs and listen to sounds made by a patient’s organs, usually done with a stethoscope.” In addition, the machine is equipped with cameras built in a sophisticated design that can almost perform operations by itself and medical personnel such as doctors are not required to be in the same room with the patients.
As per state media’s report, China has employed tens of thousands of medical workers to various places that were badly hit by the virus outbreak mostly in Hubei province. As many as 3,000 medical workers became the victims of the Covid-19 disease in the last month and the death of the whistleblower Li Wenliang in early February sparked an outburst of anger on Chinese social media.
The idea of developing a machine arose to Zheng around the turn of the Lunar New Year when the epicenter of the virus outbreak, Wuhan had just been put on lockdown and the number of death cases was rising rapidly every day. As an engineer, Zheng has decided to work on the machine when he heard from his friend, Dong Jiahong, executive president at Beijing’s Tsinghua Changgung Hospital about the frontline medical workers getting infected.
Zheng Needs Financial Support
Under the direction of Zheng, a team was set to work on two mechanized robotic arms with the same technology used on space stations and lunar explorers which could work almost automated. Zheng, the robot’s chief designer, described that the machines can perform its medical operations and even disinfect themselves after performing actions involving contact.
The professor said, “Doctors are all very brave… But this virus is just too contagious … We can use robots to perform the most dangerous tasks.” Meanwhile, he put concerns, “But the feedback from doctors was that it would be better for there to be less automation, as a personal presence would comfort and calm the patient.”
At present, two robots were under the trial out of which one is at Wuhan Union Hospital where doctors are testing the machine on Thursday. The professor explained that if the tests are successful, the machine would start functioning in the hospital from Sunday, March 8, 2020, with the help of the medical personnel.
One challenge Zheng has put forward was that he wanted to build more such machines but he claimed that the university funding has run out. He revealed that they spent RMB 500,000 ($72,000) to build a robot. He expressed the need for financial support from the investors to pursue the project of manufacturing such machines concerning the possibility of the further escalation of the virus epidemic.
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