We’ve seen Boston Dynamics’ four-legged Spot robot navigate an office, hold the door for a friend, pull a rickshaw and haul a box truck, but its most impressive feat yet might be protecting healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, Boston Dynamics announced that its Spot robots are allowing healthcare providers to remotely triage patients at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The company is sharing the hardware and software behind this robotic telehealth approach, and it hopes other mobile robotics platforms will take advantage of the tech.
Boston Dynamics’ platform uses an iPad and a two-way radio mounted to a Spot robot. Healthcare workers can guide the robots through triage tents where patients suspected to have COVID-19 are asked to line up for an initial assessment. Doctors and nurses can speak with the patients from a safe distance, possibly even their own homes. The company’s justification for this trial is that for every intake shift completed by a robot, at least one healthcare worker can reduce their exposure to the virus and conserve the limited supply of personal protective equipment.