Even if they’re wearing face shields and masks, healthcare workers can still understandably be quite leery of getting up close and personal with patients who may have COVID-19. That’s where a new robotic system comes in, as it lets clinicians take samples at a distance.
Developed by scientists at the Korea Institute of Machinery & Materials (KIMM) and the Dongguk University College of Medicine, the prototype system consists of a computer-based set of controls in one area, and the actual robot in another. Patients seat themselves at the latter, utilizing a chin rest and forehead rest to properly position their head against the device.
Guided by real-time video from an attached video camera, the clinician then manipulates the controls, sending in the robot’s disposable swab to obtain samples from the patient’s nose and mouth.
A joystick-like control moves the swab up and down, back and forth, while a sliding rod-shaped control is used to move it in and out. A force feedback setup in the second control replicates the resistance being experienced by the actual swab, so the operator knows not to apply too much pressure.