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Robots and drones can offer these benefits amid covid-19

Robots and drones can offer these benefits amid covid-19
Needless to say, covid-19 has become a global health crisis that has prompted governments all over the world to issue lockdowns, stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines. Amid this, end users are turning to robots and drones for job functions that were once performed by humans, in the interest of minimizing infections. This article looks at some examples.
 

Disinfection


It goes without saying that disinfecting is an important function at various end user entities, for example hospitals and hotels. Amid covid-19, robots have been deployed at these sites to help disinfect with minimal human efforts.

The Westin Houston Medical Center hotel, for example, says that it is now disinfecting its hotel rooms with the LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robots, which disinfect by way of intense pulsed xenon ultraviolet (UV) light. Similarly, Danish company UVD Robots has shipped several of its self-driving robots to various locations, including hospitals in China, to help them disinfect. According to the Robotics Industry Association, the company is seeking to expand to other verticals as well, for example office spaces, production floors and retail stores.
 

Deliveries


Amid covid-19, the act of delivering food, medical supplies and other necessities to those who need them is now more and more performed by robots, unmanned vehicles and drones. In fact, robot usage in hospitals has surged significantly since the outbreak. “Since the first week of February, specific hospital customers located in hot spots around the country have increased their robot utilization by over 30 percent compared to their weekly average through 2019,” said medical solutions provider Aethon

The company offers autonomous indoor delivery robots for delivering medications, lab specimens and meals as well as handling of large loads of linens and trash. According to the company, these operations can be effectively assisted with robots, which carry numerous benefits. “Robots allow greater social distancing since the mobile robot can perform transportation tasks through the hospital while people stay in their respective work areas. The robot doesn’t sneeze in the elevator or touch a door handle when making a delivery. The robot doesn’t become infected with coronavirus. It can move through quarantine areas without concern and be cleaned and ready for use without risk to personal safety,” Aethon said.
 

How drones can help


In a similar fashion, deliveries can also be done with drones in the absence of delivery worker and truckers, a lot of whom are no longer working in the midst of lockdowns and stay-at-home orders. Getting the necessary supplies to people, especially those who can’t go out to shop, is something that drones can be helpful for.

In one example, a pilot program by Google X Wing is taking place in Christianburg, Virginia, where drones developed by the company are delivering necessities such as food and toilet paper to people staying at home. According to a post from Streetsblog, the drones can go at a maximum of 80 miles per hour, delivering the necessities in under 10 minutes. Also according to Streetsblog, Wing has partnered with Walgreens to deliver medicine from the pharmacy, as well as with small local businesses, many of whom have actually seen their revenues rise since the outbreak began.

Finally, drones can serve public announcement and surveillance purposes. This is especially important given violations against social distancing and mass gathering prohibition guidelines. According to Geospatial World, law enforcing authorities such as the local police or municipal authorities are already using drones to monitor people’s movement and break up social gatherings, in the interest of reducing the risk of police officials and other staff getting infected.
 


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Comments ( 1 )
  • Michael Currie
    2020/04/28 17:43
  • Fling, an AI drone services company based in Thailand, has been first to market with a last-mile drone delivery solution in selected cities in Southeast Asia. Covid-19 has certainly led to regulators prioritizing regulatory reform of drone rules to allow drone delivery services to be deployed more widely in Asia.

    Full disclosure: I am CEO of Fling.