KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian engineers have created a robot nurse to support health workers dealing with the coronavirus outbreak and reduce their risk of infection.
The 1.5-meter-tall white robot, which bears some resemblance to R2-D2 from the “Star Wars” movies, is equipped with devices to enable physician-patient interaction at a distance.
“At this moment, we are collecting data and feedback at hospitals in Kuala Lumpur with our Medibot Version 2,” said Dr. Hasan Firdaus Mohammed Zaki from the Department of Mechatronics at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), a member of the team that created the robot.
He told Arab News that Malaysian stakeholders were interested in having the robot quickly deployed at hospitals handling coronavirus patients.
“In terms of mass producing the robot, it depends on funding from the government and private institutions,” he said. It cost the IIUM engineers $3,430 to develop the prototype.
The Malaysian engineers said they were motivated to do something when they saw footage showing overwhelmed Chinese doctors addressing the pandemic in Wuhan several months ago.
“We asked ourselves if we can contribute through a more ‘technical’ way for our frontliners,” Zaki said. “From there came the idea to develop a telepresence robot where the physician can interact with the patient from a distance to minimize the direct contact between the physician, nurse and the patient.”
Medibot has a microphone and speaker to enable physician-patient interaction, temperature sensors, an electronic stethoscope, and a system for monitoring blood pressure in real time. It can also be transformed into a sprayer robot for disinfection purposes.
“If you look into the functions of this Medibot, it opens up possibilities to utilize the robot post-COVID-19,” Zaki said.
“We are currently negotiating terms with a government agency and a private company for a joint partnership. However, we shall keep the details under wraps until everything is in place.”