Robots to assist fight against Ebola In West Africa

Robots have come to the rescue of people suffering from Ebola. A workshop next month will determine if and how they’ll join the West African fight against Ebola.

Certain robots have already been dispatched at the U.S. hospital in Dallas, Texas, but where those robots were tasked with zapping any and all germs, these machines would have a much more hands-on approach.

Scientists are considering telepresence robots to replace interpreters, autonomous vehicles to help deliver medicine and even decontamination robots that could disinfect and even bury the dead under the most tragic of scenarios.

Its true that developing completely new robots takes time, so the first wave of robots would be a hacked together to at least bring some relief to the countries battling the disease. Taskin Padir, an assistant robotics professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute said the idea is to use a wheeled robot with two attached sprayers to decontaminate equipment or areas where the disease has been found…

Padir’s ideas is also to set up a telepresence robot that could be used to move around a field clinic which would allow health care workers to see and interact with patients from the safety of a remote location.

It would not replace direct human contact, but it could add another level of interaction with the patients.

Padir along with many other professionals, will participate in a teleconference to decide the future course of action. Texas A&M professor Robin Murphy, who wrote a book about robots in disaster situations, details a lot of the difficulties in providing robotic care.

Murphy believes there are actually two important questions to answer: What do we do now and what do we do in the future. He, however, conceeded that it’s too late to develop advanced robotics for the current Ebola outbreak, but hopefully it will help scientists be prepared for the next time Ebola, or any other deadly virus returns.

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