Israeli Robotics Program Creates Robot to Treat COVID-19 Patients

May 6, 2020
Photo courtesy of Technion Spokesperson’s Office and Rambam Spokesperson’s Office.

Israeli high school students and alumni of the FIRST Robotics program in Haifa’s Reali School created a robot in April that medical professionals can use to treat COVID-19 patients without risking exposure.

Technion Vice President for External Relations and Resource Development professor Alon Wolf, who heads the FIRST program in Israel, told the Journal in a phone interview that doctors around the country told him that one of the biggest issues with COVID-19 is doctors risking exposure to the infectious disease.

“We’re talking about patients that are lying in bed, you can talk to them, they function, they collaborate,” Wolf said. “So the requirements for the robot is to be able to deliver, food, medications, and have maybe even a censor that could take blood pressure.”

Wolf contacted the robotics team at Reali School about the project and in four days the team was able to create get a working prototype of the robot that medical personnel can control remotely; the team is continually making improvements to the robot. The robot, known as COROBOT, is currently being tested at Haifa’s Rambam Hospital and has had initial success.

Professor Gil Yudilevitch of Technion Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, who heads the robotics team at Reali School, said in a statement that the robot eventually could act as a conduit between patient and doctor.

“In the next stage the robot will incorporate a communication system that will include a screen, camera, microphone and speaker, and will be able to move from patient to patient and transmit information to the medical staff in real time,” Yudilevitch said. “I hope that in the future we will add features that will help with the actual treatment, such as sensors that will check patients’ pulse rates and blood oxygen levels.”

Wolf said that “it’s a very exciting project,” adding that “this is something we can relatively very easily adopt and deploy all over the world by local teams.”

As of this writing, there are 16,314 COVID-19 cases and 238 deaths from the virus in Israel.

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