Robot maker Boston Dynamics announced on Thursday that its quadruped Spot robot is already in use at one Boston hospital to help with coronavirus treatment. The company now has ambitious plans to expand use of its robots to assist healthcare workers during the pandemic, and it’s also open sourcing the hardware and software it’s using so other hospitals and robot makers may be able to do follow its lead.
The hospital, Brigham And Women’s Hospital of Harvard University, has been using a Spot unit since last week for remote triage of patients suspected of having COVID-19. Right now, Boston Dynamics, which was formerly owned by Google and is now owned by Japanese communications giant SoftBank, is deploying Spot as telemedicine machine. It’s using a custom mount and enclosure for an iPad or similar-sized screen to be used for video conferencing between doctors and other healthcare workers and their patients.
The company is also looking at ways to remotely monitor patients' vital signs using thermal cameras, as well as potentially using UV-C lighting for disinfection.