A startup based in Kerala has developed a robot that can be used to serve food and medication to patients in isolation wards. The development comes at a time when the country is battling an increasing number of cases of people infected by the Covid-19 virus, many of whom require isolation at hospitals to prevent the disease from spreading.
Asimov Robotics says its KARMIbot can help reduce both the burden on healthcare professionals as well as the risk of them being exposed to the virus.
“We have completed the prototype of the robot. It does not have arms but has a detachable container that self-disinfects the items it uses. Since it is removable, it can be periodically sterilised too,” said T Jayakrishnan, founder and CEO of the Kochi-based company. The robot is expected to be cost-effective. Once the mould is completed and spares made available, the company will be able to manufacture one robot a day. It is in talks with the Ernakulam district health authorities for approval to roll out the robot at the earliest.
The robot also comes enabled with a video conferencing facility, which is expected to aid healthcare workers in keeping tabs on patients remotely. The patient will also be able to interact with attendants without coming in contact with them physically. “We have many startups that are working in disaster management and relief,” said Saji Gopinath, head of Kerala Start Up Mission (KSUM).
“These startups, like Asimov Robotics, have many products that can be pivoted into being used as solutions in times like this…we felt that using robotics to help with caregiving and other non-essential medical procedures such as delivery of food or medication can considerably reduce the burden on healthcare workers,” Gopinath added.
Kerala, which has been one of the worst affected due to the outbreak, reported 28 fresh cases, taking its total tally to 95, of which four people have been discharged. It is also in a state-wide lockdown till month end. “This is a great time for technology to effectively and efficiently improve the situation,” said Prasad Balakrishnan Nair, CEO of the Maker Village, an electronics hardware incubator located in Kochi.
“We are promoting a number of initiatives that could be of assistance in these trying times.” Another Kerala-based startup is developing an electronic temperature scanner that will not require manual checks with a thermal scanning device. The walkthrough scanner will record the temperature and send out an alert if it is higher than normal, Nair said.