Boston Dynamics Sends Robot Dog to Help Doctors Treat Coronavirus Patients

The good dog Spot has a new job as a telemedicine provider and he deserves all the belly rubs.
Derya Ozdemir
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At Brigham and Women's Hospital, something remarkably cyberpunk is taking place: Boston Dynamics' sweet robot dog Spot is helping doctors in Boston fight the coronavirus.

The robotic pup is equipped with an iPad and a two-way radio which enables the healthcare workers to video conference with patients while remotely directing the robot. This way, the medics can assess the patients in isolation without being exposed to the virus.

This is incredibly important since, in the U.S., at least 5,400 nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers have contracted the disease themselves, with dozens of them losing their lives. That's the reason why this unlikely assistant will surely the doctors’ best friend.


Real-world trials have already started

Boston Dynamics said in a blog post on Thursday, "Starting in early March, [we] started receiving inquiries from hospitals asking if our robots could help minimize their staff’s exposure to COVID-19. One of the hospitals that we spoke to shared that, within a week, a sixth of their staff had contracted COVID-19 and that they were looking into using robots to take more of their staff out of range of the novel virus."

Now, Spot has already been stationed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital of Harvard University. The mechanical canine works as telemedicine support, helping frontline staff in high-risk environments.

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Greg Howarth (@greggathegreat)'in paylaştığı bir gönderi ()

The Brigham Hospital has begun real-word trials last week with the patients who had agreed to be in a robotic interview.

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Peter Chai (@peterrchai)'in paylaştığı bir gönderi ()

How does it work

The current version of Spot can only conduct interviews; however, Brigham will soon station an upgraded model with cameras that can measure a patient’s respiration rate and body temperature.

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Brigham Digital Innovation Hub (@bwhihub)'in paylaştığı bir gönderi ()

Spot's iPad camera enables the physician to see the patient's physical condition. The doctor can talk to the patient through the built-in microphone to ask standard diagnostic questions. Moreover, they can direct Spot to move around to better see the patient.

The wide usage of robots like Spot can immensely help hospital staff and decrease the need for face shields and N-95 masks too.

Boston Dynamics is open-sourcing its hardware and software

The best part is the fact that Boston Dynamics is open-sourcing its hardware and software stack to rejigger the robot for the hospitals. They're available on the company's GitHub page.

According to the company, you can transform other robots into triage workers with only the open-sourced software.

The good dog Spot will evolve

Moreover, the company wants to advance the robot and make it more suitable to the hospital setting by making it measure vital signs like body temperature, respiratory rate, pulse rate, and oxygen saturation levels.

Once that is accomplished, Boston Dynamics will use UV-C light to get rid of virus particles and sanitize surfaces.