Amid the coronavirus pandemic, robots are proving to us that they’re not just marketing tools for viral videos. In fact, if you’ve ever wondered what Boston Dynamic’s Spot, the dystopian robotic dog that can be kicked around and walk away on its merry way, is really useful for, look no further. Spot has found a new job as stand-in for doctors treating COVID-19 patients.
Deployed to support frontline staff at a local Boston hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Spot is armed with a two-way radio mounted on its back and an iPad to enable doctors to roam around the hospital’s makeshift clinics, while communicating remotely with patients. This minimizes the risks associated with exposure for both parties.
“Today marks the second week of Spot’s presence at a local Boston hospital, Brigham and Women’s, where the robot is being deployed as a mobile telemedicine platform, enabling healthcare providers to remotely triage patients,” the company wrote in a blog post. “We’re listening to their feedback on how Spot can do more but are encouraged by their reports that using the robot has helped their nursing staff minimize time exposed to potentially contagious patients.”
Spots usefulness though doesn’t end at being a stand-in. Boston Dynamics plans to equip Spot with a UV light and employ it in a cleanup crew to disinfect surfaces within hospitals and metro stations.
The company is also further exploring how its technology could be used to remotely check vitals for patients including body temperature, respiratory rate, pulse and oxygen saturation, but none of these services are necessarily reliant on Boston Dynamic’s hardware or software.
In fact, in lieu of Spot, Boston Dynamics hinted that a wheeled or tracked robot may be better suited for these tasks. So to bring the best minds together, they’ve open-sourced documentation through GitHub to “empower mobile robotics platforms to leverage the same hardware and software stack that we’ve developed to help frontline healthcare workers.”