Coronavirus has compelled organizations to reflect on their core functioning such as operations, services, and demands. Social distancing and lockdown in various parts of the world have affected multiple industries. They are now looking for measures to combat this pandemic. Both uncharted situations and social distancing have been a matter of urgency for industries to consider automation when a similar situation arises in the future.

The virus is spreading through human to human contact and can reside on non-living objects for a while. Its spread can only be prevented by maintaining distance and avoiding contact with the infected person. To ensure that the population follows the regulations put in place, drones are now being employed in assisting the government. They can identify individuals not wearing a mask, roaming outside their houses and not following the necessary measures in lockdown. Additionally, drones can cover massive areas providing services like surveillance, disinfecting the area and broadcasting crucial information at the same time.

coronavirus

Frontline workers such as medical staff and police are working for long hours in several shifts and are acting as a backbone for all countries. Autonomous mobile robots (AMR) can help doctors to treat and monitor patients’ health and support police officers for surveillance in a lockdown situation. Moreover, they can also provide support in the delivery of essential products. Application of AMR can be extended to Supply Chain Automation and specific Healthcare processes. .

Logistics and Warehousing Applications

Automating warehouse and logistics will be a long-term plan for supply chain specialists, after learning an important lesson from lockdown and labors issues. Warehouses can leverage autonomous mobile robots to perform operations such as automated picking process, maneuvering indoor/outdoor for inventory handling and more.

Example:
  • Chuck from 6River can be used in picking, counting, put-away, replenishment and sorting tasks without halting and covering a maximum area in a single stretch.
  • Fetch Robotics 500 and 1500 are two automated pallet moving robots replacing forklift.
  • Other companies such as inVia robotics, Aethon (TUG), Geek+, Vecna robotics, and others are also leveraging autonomous mobile robots for seamless warehouse operations.

Healthcare Applications

Health care workers are key individuals to fight against this pandemic.  As they are working in priximity to infected individuals, they need all the available technological resources to support them. Autonomous mobile robots can support medical workers, right from the screening and diagnosis of patients to monitoring patients continuously from remote locations. Additionally, AMR can also support hospital operations such as delivering medicine to patients, hospital supply chain, sterilization, providing food and collecting infected garbage. The robots are embedded with multiple sensors and cameras to detect and monitor patient situations 24/7.  Since hospital staff is working overtime without taking the required rest, in such a critical situation, AMR supports them by automating the process, thereby minimizing burden.

Example:
  • TUG (Aethon) was designed to support healthcare staff for providing services such as material supply, food service, infected garbage collection, and linen to the housekeeping staff.
  • UHD robots are continuously serving in Wuhan, China to disinfect hospitals through UV-C lights. Geel, Belgium is using similar technology to disinfect the hospitals. Other companies like DiSa, XENEX, GermFalcon, Blue Ocean Robotics and Phollower 100 are also providing such services.
  •  A humanoid named Tommy is helping Circolo hospital staff in Varese, Italy to cater to their patients. These robots are equipped with multiple sensors that can monitor patient’s health remotely and provide doctors valuable input such as temperature, heart rates, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, and blood pressure.
  • In Tamil Nadu, India robots are delivering essential vital medicines and products inside the hospital.

Conclusion

AMR will be beneficial to combat the coronavirus pandemic situation. Automation must be introduced in all major and small-scale industries for any upcoming pandemic and uncertain situations. The demand will rise for autonomous mobile robots in multiple sectors, as AMR as it is incredibly easier to deploy and stretch work multiple hours without any human intervention.