Spot the Robot Dog Monitoring COVID-19 Patients

We all know Spot the robot dog from Boston Dynamics. The four-legged robot has been seen on construction sites, cheering on baseball teams, and even encouraging social distancing. Now thanks to researchers from MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital,  he’s helping to monitor COVID-19 patients.

Spot was equipped with four cameras; one infrared plus three monochrome that filter different wavelengths of light. These allow the robot to measure skin temperature, breathing rate, pulse rate, and blood oxygen saturation in patients.

Spot – which is controlled remotely by a handheld device – can be maneuvered to wherever patients are located. He can also carry a tablet that allows doctors to ask patients about their symptoms remotely. This helps minimize exposure to the deadly virus and save time for healthcare workers.

Robot Dogs Spot Construction Boston Dynamics - YellRobot
credit: Boston Dynamics

Spot Could Help Reduce COVID-19 Exposure

The researchers came up with the idea of using Spot in COVID-19 wards as they were looking for a way to minimize infection exposure for healthcare workers. Robots of all kinds have become a key weapon in the fight against the deadly virus. They’ve helped protect workers while at the same time improved efficiency.

“In robotics, one of our goals is to use automation and robotic technology to remove people from dangerous jobs,” said Henwei Huang, an MIT postdoctoral researcher “We thought it should be possible for us to use a robot to remove the health-care worker from the risk of directly exposing themselves to the patient.”

The researchers are currently focused on using Spot in triage applications, but in the future they could be deployed in patients’ hospital rooms. Of course, both applications would require approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.