(Alliance Covid-19 special program) Remotely haptic controlled medical robot for telenursing without exposure to Covid-19 virus
The tsunami of Covid-19 pandemic has swept across Canadian healthcare systems, causing a lot of doctors and nurses to fall ill. This is an unprecedented tough situation that no one has seen before and will become even worse if no further actions are taken. One reason can be attributed is direct exposure to Covid-19 patients with severe shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment). The urgent need to protect our healthcare workers motivates this research. Considering the worldwide shortage of PPE will continue, we are proposing an alternative approach by providing telenursing robots. In this research, we are proposing the world’s first haptic tele-operated robot that physically interact with patients to allow doctors and nurses in a remote location to perform various medical services including sample collection, auscultation, blood pressure and oxygen monitoring, etc. The robot is composed of several core concepts: the state-of-the-art 7 DOF robotic arm that has smooth manipulation, a newly developed robot hand to realize soft contact with patients, a haptic device that is operated by healthcare workers to control the robot, an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to autonomously detect and interact with patients, and provide an alert when Covid-19 virus is detected. This program brings the strong partnership of three professional partners: my research team at Memorial University, Eastern Health and Proax Technologies Ltd. My research team has been devoted to the development of intelligent robotic systems and applied AI, and has gained solid knowledge and achieved significant accomplishments. Eastern Health has the largest network of hospitals and clinics in the province. They will provide in-kind contributions like consultation and experimental test in their community. Proax is a leading research and development institute in robotics industry. They will be fully involved in this research in providing consultation, training HQP to implement the design into practical use based on their unrivaled industrial experiences. We are confident that the proposed research will provide an effective protection for the Canadian healthcare workers who are our most reliable frontline to combat Covid-19.