Mobile robots play an important role in removing people from dangerous environments. we’ve spent the last six weeks building and testing a payload and application architecture that might enable our robot, Spot, to assist reduce exposure of frontline healthcare workers to the novel COVID-19 virus.
We developed the payload, hardware, and software for this application in order that they’re generalizable and ready to be deployed on other mobile robotic platforms with APIs and capacity for custom payloads.
Today, we are sharing the results of our initial work deploying the robot with Bringham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts and that we are open-sourcing the hardware and software designs wont to get these robots into the sector. Our hope is that these tools can enable developers and roboticists to rapidly deploy robots so as to scale back risks to medical staff.
Application development on Spot
Starting in early March, Boston Dynamics started receiving inquiries from hospitals asking if our robots could help minimize their staff’s exposure to COVID-19. one among the hospitals that we spoke to shared that, within every week, a sixth of their staff had contracted COVID-19 which they were looking into using robots to require more of their staff out of range of the novel virus.
Based on these conversations, also because of the global shortage of critical personal protective equipment (PPE), we’ve spent the past several weeks trying to raised understand hospital requirements to develop a mobile robotics solution with our robot, Spot. The result’s a legged robot application that will be deployed to support frontline staff responding to the pandemic in ad-hoc environments like triage tents and parking lots.
Today marks the second week of Spot’s presence at an area Boston facility, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where the medical team uses the robot as a mobile telemedicine platform, allowing healthcare providers to remotely triage patients. We’re taking note of their feedback on how Spot can do more but are encouraged by reports that using the robot has helped their nursing staff minimize time exposed to potentially contagious patients.
Open-source healthcare robotics toolkit
With the deployment of our first healthcare-focused robot, we’re open-sourcing all of our work to empower mobile robotics platforms to leverage an equivalent hardware and software stack that we’ve developed to assist frontline healthcare workers. Below you’ll find a summary of how we are using (and decide to use) mobile robots to combat the spread of COVID-19.
None of the services below are reliant on Boston Dynamics hardware or software. In many instances, we imagine wheeled or tracked robots could also be a far better solution for these applications.
Specifically, we’ve already been in close contact with Canadian field robotics firm Clearpath Robotics, and their CTO Ryan Gariepy has affirmed that they too are actively working to help robotics developers and researchers around the world in their efforts to support our healthcare workers and maintain our critical infrastructure. He further noted that this crisis serves to underscore that within the end, it’s the appliance that ought to be front and center, and users shouldn’t need to care about the small print of robot mobility.
For more information, including detailed documentation and files of CAD mounts and IRB applications, click here. If you’d wish to work with us or have an interest in using these robots on your site, please fill out the contact form at rock bottom of the page. we’ll still update this page and therefore the resources on our GitHub as developments are made.
What we’re doing now: Telemedicine
With current protocols at local hospitals, patients suspected to possess COVID-19 are asked to line up in tents outside to answer questions and obtain initial assessments for temperature. This process requires up to 5 medical staff, placing those individuals at high risk of contracting the virus. With the utilization of a mobile robot, hospitals are ready to reduce the amount of necessary medical staff at the scene and conserve their limited PPE supply.
Through an iPad and a two-way radio mounted on a robot’s back, healthcare providers can video conference with patients as they remotely direct the mobile robot through lines of sick individuals within the tents. With this configuration, doctors are ready to speak with patients from afar, possibly even from their own homes. for each intake shift completed by a teleoperated robot shift, a minimum of one healthcare provider is in a position to scale back their interaction with the disease.
What we hope to try to next: Remote Vital Inspection
To further assist healthcare providers in triaging sick patients, the robot will got to support collecting additional sign information.
In order to supply this service, we’d like to work out the way to remotely measure:
- blood heat
- rate of respiration
- Oxygen saturation
We have been in dialogue with researchers who use thermal camera technology to live blood heat and calculate the rate of respiration. We’ve also applied externally-developed logic to externally-mounted RGB cameras to capture changes in vessel contraction to live pulse. We are evaluating methods for measuring oxygen saturation.
What we hope to try to next: Disinfection
By attaching a UV-C light or other technology to the robot’s back, Spot could use the device to kill virus particles and disinfect surfaces in any unstructured space that needs support in decontamination – be it hospital tents or metro stations. We are still within the early stages of developing this solution but also see a variety of existing mobile robotics providers who have implemented this technology specifically for hospitals.
We hope our fellow mobile robot providers, existing customers, and medical professionals are going to be ready to use this information to leverage mobile robots to require people out of harm’s way during this critical time. Together, we will improve conditions for healthcare workers and essential personnel around the world, save lives, and fight COVID-19.