Due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak, the medical community in China has pushed to bring in robots to assist with patient care in affected hospitals. Telepresence bots, which facilitate remote video communication, the safe delivery of medical items, and safe patient health monitoring, are becoming a common sight on hospital floors in Chinese cities. They are becoming a safe go-between to help limit the spread of the virus.

Embracing robotic support

A robotics company in Shanghai has deployed 16 ‘Little Peanut’ robots to an Hangzhou hospital to assist with the treatment of quarantined Wuhan travellers to Singapore. Meanwhile, medical and catering robots were donated to the Shenyang Red Cross to help a number of hospitals fight the virus. Local media has reported the use of robots on the ground in treatment centres across Jianxi, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shanghai, Tianjin and Beijing.

Provincial hospitals have struggled to cope with the rapid spread of the coronavirus, but it has pushed them to embrace robots as a solution. Gadgets have become medical assistants in China’s tech-heavy response to this deadly virus, which has also involved work-from-home solutions and drones. It remains to be seen how effective these strategies will be.

5G networking

The enormous push in China to deploy 5G wireless networking has enabled urban hospitals to utilise the technology in the robots. 5G-powered cameras on medical robots are enabling video communication and patient monitoring in real-time.

One robot that rides the 5G network is a robot in Wuhan Union Hospital and Tongji Tianyou Hospital that carries cleaning materials to disinfect hospital zones along a programmable route. Another 5G robot, this time in Zhejiang People’s Hospital, was used to diagnose its first coronavirus case.

An unusual experience

Patients are having to acclimatise to seeing robots coming to their aid, but Chinese society has been adopting bots into numerous sectors for some time. Restaurants, nursing homes, banks, warehouses and nursery schools have seen the arrival of robots, and more is sure to come in the country’s immediate future. Production of industrial robots has increased significantly in recent months.

The fight against the coronavirus has only accelerated China’s progress down a path it had already begun taking. The country wants to become one of the world’s most intensively automated by the end of 2020.