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Issue #40: Covid Robotics

Rodney B. Murray
Jul 25 · 5 min read

Today, a group of 20 individuals empowered by the exponential growing technologies of AI and robotics and computers and networks and eventually nanotechnology can do what only nation-states could have done before. ~Peter Diamandis

The GOOD NEWSletter launched way back in BC (Before Covid-19). My goal was to spread the good news about how technology can help to save us from the looming disasters brought about by climate change and the use of fossil fuels: air pollution, water pollution, dwindling food supply, and consequences to our health.

I’ve often covered advances in AI, machine learning, and robotics as our technological saviors. With Covid-19 being top of mind, it’s time to look at how robots help us defeat this Pandemic.

In this issue, I cover applying AI and robotics to social distancing with autonomous vehicles, zapping Covid-19 in hospitals and malls, and replacing tedious manual labor in research and testing labs.

Social Distancing with Autonomous Vehicles

We must use social distancing from now until … when? Numerous companies are developing autonomous EVs and drones to do contactless delivery of your prescriptions, groceries, and more.

Over 76 percent of people in the United States live within five miles of a CVS Pharmacy. The chain serves 4.5 million customers across the country every day.

CVS customers in the Houston pilot area can place prescription orders along with their non-prescription items on CVS.com or via the CVS Mobile Pharmacy app.

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The R2 Delivery Bot — Credit: Neuro

Good News: Nuro AI is partnering with CVS Pharmacy to deliver medicines using its autonomous vehicle. The startup utilizes its fleet of autonomous vehicles to deliver prescriptions and essentials across three zip codes in Houston, Texas.

Delivery Robots Slated To Launch In Texas To Limit Virus Spread: The robots are a contactless delivery system that could limit the spread of the virus.

Drones are being deployed in the fight to curb COVID-19: Novant Health and Zipline have launched the distribution of personal protective gear and medical equipment in North Carolina.

Drone to deliver masks to a Scottish Island hospital: Drones will be used for fast no-contact delivery of PPE and test supplies to a hospital on the Isle of Mull.

READ MORE

UV Robots Zap Coronavirus in Hospitals, Factories, and Malls

In a previous post, I mentioned how Ultraviolet light can destroy coronaviruses. You can even buy one for home use. Here we’re talking about autonomous robots designed to roam hallways and rooms to disinfect the entire space with high-intensity UV light.

The most significant source of coronavirus particles are an infected person, but such people can leave behind viruses on surfaces and drifting through the air that could be infectious for several days.

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Credit: Tru-D Smart UVC

Good News: MIT tested a system in the Greater Boston Food Bank. Since UV-C is dangerous for all living organisms, it can only run when there’s no one around.

As the robot makes its way down the aisles at 0.22 miles per hour, the UV-C sweeps over every surface. It takes just half an hour to cover a 4,000 square foot area, delivering enough UV-C energy to neutralize about 90 percent of coronaviruses (and other organisms) on surfaces.

READ MORE

Robotic COVID-19 Testing Lab Can Process 3000 Patient Samples Daily

We’ve all heard that there is not enough Covid-19 testing. Assuming you can get a test, the results can take days! Too long to do reliable contact tracing. Robots are now being deployed to speed up testing and even scientific research.

One of the current bottlenecks in assessing and stopping the COVID-19 Pandemic is diagnostic testing. The countries that have performed the best in reducing the numbers of those infected have aggressively tested their populations, and have been ruthless in tracking down the contacts of infected people and testing them also. Given that many of those infected are asymptomatic, testing is crucial in identifying those who are spreading the disease. … Timely testing is particularly critical for healthcare staff who may be infected, as they could spread the disease among vulnerable patients in healthcare facilities.

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Credit: UC Berkeley

Good News: Researchers at UC Berkeley have set up a robotic COVID-19 testing lab that can process up to 3000 a day if required. The new facility can provide results as quickly as 4 hours from the receipt of patient swabs.

Researchers have even built what they call an intelligent mobile robot scientist that’s able to work continuously nearly 24 hours a day and carry out experiments on its own!

READ MORE

A common refrain about robots is that they will take away jobs. That may be true, but many of those jobs are dangerous and repetitive, especially during this Pandemic. Covid-19 has accelerated the development and deployment of robots, as illustrated above, and for many other purposes.

I believe that eventually, we will have no choice but to pay everyone a Universal Basic Income as touted by Democratic Presidential candidate, Andrew Yang:

In the next 12 years, 1 out of 3 American workers are at risk of losing their jobs to new technologies — and unlike with previous waves of automation, this time new jobs will not appear quickly enough in large enough numbers to make up for it. To avoid an unprecedented crisis, we’re going to have to find a new solution, unlike anything we’ve done before. It all begins with the Freedom Dividend, a universal basic income for all American adults, no strings attached — a foundation on which a stable, prosperous, and just society can be built.

And that was before the Pandemic. So what about all the loss of taxes paid by displaced workers? Maybe the robots should pay taxes, as suggested by Bill Gates.

I’m optimistic that robots will help us during this Pandemic by allowing us to keep social distancing, taking over dangerous jobs, and speeding up testing and scientific research.

Optimistically yours,
Dr. Rod Murray

P.S. In case you missed it, you can read Covid Vaccine Advances and other back issues on The GOOD NEWSletter site on Medium.

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The GOOD NEWSletter

I scour the Internet for good news, so you don’t have to!

Rodney B. Murray

Written by

e-Learning executive, podcaster, pharmacologist, motorcyclist and militant optimist

The GOOD NEWSletter

I scour the Internet for good news, so you don’t have to! Sign up for the email newsletter at www.MilitantOptimist.com.

Rodney B. Murray

Written by

e-Learning executive, podcaster, pharmacologist, motorcyclist and militant optimist

The GOOD NEWSletter

I scour the Internet for good news, so you don’t have to! Sign up for the email newsletter at www.MilitantOptimist.com.

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