The idea of humanoid robots taking jobs previously done by humans may feel dystopian, but in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, robots can free up human hospital medical staff and limit the possibility virus spread.
That's precisely why Beijing-based robotics company CloudMinds sent 14 robots to Wuhan, China to help with patient care amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The robots, some of which are more humanoid than others, can clean and disinfect, deliver medicine to patients and measure patients' temperature. CloudMinds donated robots to several medical facilities in China, including the Wuhan Wuchang Smart Field Hospital, which was converted from the Hong Shan Sports Center.
For a time in March, "a previously human-run field hospital located inside Hong Shan Sports Center located in Wuhan was converted ... into a robot-led field hospital staffed entirely by robots and other smart [Internet of Things] devices," CloudMinds CEO and founder Bill Huang tells CNBC Make It, in a statement.
The robots cost between $17,000 and $72,000 each, a spokesperson for CloudMinds U.S., tells CNBC Make It.
Take a look.
In the video below, CloudMinds' infrared thermometry system checks peoples' temperature as they enter the Wuhan Wuchang Smart Field Hospital. If a person entering the hospital showed fever symptoms, the AI platform would alert human medical staff.
All video and photos courtesy of CloudMinds
CloudMinds' humanoid service robot, Ginger, helped with hospital admissions, education services and, as can be seen in the video below, in providing a bit of levity. In addition to its administrative responsibilities, Ginger, "helped lift the spirits of bored quarantine patients by entertaining them with dancing," Bill Huang said.
The delivery robot below has an autonomous navigation and obstacle avoidance system. It can be used to deliver food, drinks and medicine to patients without direct person-to-person contact.
The robots worked with an artificial intelligence information management platform.
Called HARIX (Human Augmented Robot Intelligence with eXtreme Reality), "this AI platform, synced with smart bracelets and rings worn by patients, was able to monitor patient vital signs (including temperature, heart rate, blood oxygen levels), allowing doctors and nurses outside the facility to monitor all patient vital information remotely on one interface," Bill Huang tells CNBC Make It.
"Doctors and nurses were also equipped with these smart devices to monitor their own vitals to catch any potential early symptoms of infection," he says.
Operations in field hospitals like Wuhan Wuchang Smart Field Hospital have now been put on hold.
"These temporary field hospitals were used primarily to treat new incoming cases with light symptoms, with severe cases being transferred to hospitals," a CloudMinds spokesperson tells CNBC Make It. "As the containment efforts have improved, and the number of new cases has decreased, hospitals are now able to accommodate all new incoming cases."