Spot to the rescue

Spot to the rescue
Spot to the rescue

Spot is a very famous dog, but he is not just any other dog. Spot is nothing more and nothing less than the famous robotic dog of Boston Dynamics, the company that specializes in creating autonomous robots capable of performing complex tasks without the help of humans. For example, Spot is capable of opening doors, running and even towing a truck, and now, with this Coronavirus theme, he has been found to have an exceptional function, which will serve much in this pandemic, at least for hospitals that can count with his help.

But who the hell is Spot and how can he help us?

Together with the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts, Boston Dynamics has adapted its robotic dog to incorporate an iPad in the front of its head and allow doctors or hospital staff to communicate remotely with the patient, without exposing people to possible contagion. In other words, a telemedicine solution that allows the safety of medical personnel to be preserved, which is very relevant in the worldwide fight against COVID-19.

Thanks to the iPad’s microphone and speaker, the doctor can talk to the patients and ask them questions that will help him to make a diagnosis, and in addition, the doctor in charge of Spot can control it remotely to be able to visit different patients.

Last week Brigham Hospital conducted its first tests with this system, with several patients agreeing to participate in the experiment. According to Dr. Farah Dadabhoy, a hospital spokeswoman, the patients were delighted.

Spot helping medical staff in times of Coronavirus
Spot helping medical staff in times of Coronavirus

In collaboration with MIT, doctors at Brigham Hospital were experimenting with remote diagnostic sensors, but ultimately needed a robot to move them from patient to patient, and this is where Boston Dynamics and its friendly robotic dog, Spot, come in.

Boston Dynamics release Spot’s code so other hospitals can implement a similar system

According to a statement from Boston Dynamics, they have decided to release the code on Github from this SPOT implementation so that other hospitals can use it for their telemedicine tasks.

We developed the payload, hardware, and software for this application so that they are generalizable and able to be deployed on other mobile robotic platforms with APIs and capacity for custom payloads.

Today, we are sharing the results of our initial work deploying the robot with Bringham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts and we are open-sourcing the hardware and software designs used to get these robots into the field. Our hope is that these tools can enable developers and roboticists to rapidly deploy robots in order to reduce risks to medical staff.

Boston Dynamics explains that the use of Spot in hospitals can go beyond just helping to communicate with patients. The company is exploring how to incorporate sensors to measure temperature, breathing and heart rate and oxygen level. These measurements would be made using a thermal camera and an RGB camera to measure the pulse.

Animals and Coronavirus: all you need to know
Animals and Coronavirus: all you need to know

The last step proposed by the team for this project, in case it goes ahead, will be to incorporate disinfection technology by ultraviolet light or another mechanism, to disinfect all the areas where the robot passes, not only in the hospital, but also in other very crowded spaces such as subway stations.

In short, a dog that does not bark and will help many people in this unforgettable year of the Coronavirus.


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