Hi-Tech Strategies: The outbreak of coronavirus COVID-19 in China lead to its rapid spread across the world, which also brought a rapid response from Medtech companies, especially in China. The U.S., and to some extent, European countries, are also aggressively producing an increasing number of drones to assist in the battle against this deadly virus. Drones are used to provide services to those quarantined and for those who are practicing physical/ social distancing.
The following is the vision of Xi, the General Secretary of the People’s Republic of China:
“The way I prefer to translate it . . . is thinking about it in terms of a species that is coming together and working towards a common vision of creating a harmonious world. . . . So, China 2.0 is also about World 2.0.”*
According to Xi, China is at war with Covid-19. In fact, he believes the coronavirus will have a unifying effect:
“I believe the coronavirus outbreak will end up creating solidarity within the nation, a unity within the nation to move forward together, to hit that vision.”*
This pandemic has sped the “testing” process of robots and drones in public as officials desperately seek the most expeditious and safe way to wrestle with the outbreak and limit contamination and spread of the virus.
China, more than any other country, has been in the forefront of technological innovation and has prioritized the advancement of robotics as an integral part of the army in support of humans who are battling Covid-19.
The following are Hi-Tech strategies being used to combat the Covid-19 pandemic:
Covid-19 is taxing the healthcare systems and medical professionals in every country to which it spreads. Robots and flying robots (drones) help to make telemedicine possible for medical professionals to communicate with patients remotely.This saves time by allowing patients, who may be contagious, to stay confined. In addition to communicating with individuals quarantined due to coronavirus, robots can also find out vital patient information and thus help doctors and nurses treat patients.
At the Wuchang field hospital in China, patients were tested at the entrance of the hospital by 5G-powered robots, who were dressed up like doctors and nurses. The hospital ward was staffed with robots who not only helped to alleviate the tremendous strain on human personnel, but also helped in containing the virus.
Because Covid-19 is extremely contagious (when compared to other viruses), it is obviously safer if human-to-human contact can be minimized. Since robots are immune to infection, technology companies, such as JD.com, the largest online retailer and biggest internet company by revenue in China. Its services cover 99% of China’s population, and provides standard same and next-day service delivery–a level of service and speed that is considered to be “unmatched globally.”
Other companies have also come to the challenge to get more robots out in force to deliver medical supplies within the various healthcare environments.
Robots are also proving to be valuable to people who are quarantined at home by their “contactless delivery” of essential items to their homes. Meituan Dianping is a delivery app, which advertizes their “contactless delivery” options through autonomous land and aerial robots. Pudu Technology is a company based in Shenzhen, China which is inspired by the possibility of reducing cross-infection by implementing home delivery of drugs and meals by robots.
Robots are also used to automate and streamline orders within warehouses. The Chinese equivalent of Amazon in the U.S. is a company called Alibaba, that uses robots in its warehouses and has been actively involved with getting medical aid donations to areas of China, such as Wuhan, that need them for testing and treatment of Covid-19.
The Chinese food delivery service company, Ele.me, started out by using robots to deliver meals on a small scale, such as delivering meals to quarantined individuals held in hotels who were suspected of having the virus and they, like so many other companies in China, expanded due to the heavy demand for such services because of the coronavirus. Robots were not only involved in the delivery service, but were also used in kitchens in restaurants cooking and serving food.
UVD Robots is a Danish company that provided robots to Chinese hospitals to disinfect rooms. When fully deployed, the robots will operate in all Chinese provinces. These robots are remotely controlled by a health worker who remains a safe distance away and emits an ultraviolet light throughout an area to kill viruses and bacteria without exposing any human personnel to infection. Since there are thousands of deaths each year due to infections acquired at hospitals, preventing such diseases is a great opportunity for this vital service of robots.
Amazingly, Youibot, another Chinese robotics company, created a sterilization robot in just a mere 14 days, because of the demand from the Chinese marketplace. One of the biggest challenges for many factories, whether in China or elsewhere, is to have enough staff to run full production lines in factories. This is why robotic automation is increasingly valued. Robots are also appealing because of the reduction costs, continuity and productivity that is so vital, especially in a climate of coronaviruses or other viruses.
MicroMultiCopter is a technology company located in Shenzhen, China, which deployed over100 drones to many Chinese cities that could patrol areas and observe crowds and traffic more efficiently. These flying robots identified those not wearing masks in public spaces and broadcasted information to a larger area than traditional loudspeakers can.
Drones are also used to fight Covid-19 by spraying disinfectants in public spaces, and through thermal sensing, drones are also able to help officials with crowd management and identifying people with elevated body temperatures, which could indicate they have the virus. Hi-Tech Strategies
Terra Drone is a Japanese company that made sure that medical and other supplies were safely transported from Xinchang County’s disease control center to the Xinchang County People’s Hospital in China without exposing humans to infection. In fact, they were the first to obtain the urban drone delivery license, issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China. It is estimated, by GPS World, that using drones speeds up transportation by 50% compared to transportation on the road. Even more importantly, it is safe since it doesn’t expose human delivery drivers to any risks.
To say we live in “uncertain times” is an understatement!
The medical community seems to be agreed that we can, and even should, expect another wave or more, of Covid-19. There are also other viruses on the horizon that we may have to face in the future. It is not unreasonable to think that if another outbreak emerges on a similar scale of coronavirus (COVID-19), that robots and drones could become an increasingly essential support for humans in fighting the virus!
In an uncertain world, we need more than ever, Hi-Tech Strategies – an arsenal to fight the next war, whatever kind of war that may be. Land and aerial robots are already available, to a certain extent, but can be much more, a vital part of the arsenal. Hi-Tech Strategies