During the current coronavirus pandemic, one of the riskiest parts of a healthcare worker’s job is assessing people who have symptoms of COVID-19. Researchers from MIT, Boston Dynamics, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital hope to reduce that risk by using robots to remotely measure patients’ vital signs.
The robots, which are controlled by a handheld device, can also carry a tablet that allows doctors to ask patients about their symptoms without being in the same room. Using four cameras mounted on a dog-like robot developed by Boston Dynamics, the researchers have shown that they can measure skin temperature, breathing rate, pulse rate, and blood oxygen saturation in healthy patients, from a distance of 2 m. They are now making plans to test it in patients with COVID-19 symptoms.
They use existing computer vision technologies that can measure temperature, breathing rate, pulse, and blood oxygen saturation, and worked to make them mobile. To achieve that, they used a robot known as Spot, which can walk on four legs, similarly to a dog. Healthcare workers can maneuver the robot to wherever patients are sitting, using a handheld controller. The researchers mounted four different cameras onto the robot — an infrared camera plus three monochrome cameras that filter different wavelengths of light.