At one point or another, you must have seen Boston Dynamics’ Spot robots while surfing the web.
Spot robots are these somewhat creepy four-legged robot dogs that are designed to nimbly navigate areas wheeled robots cannot, either autonomously or via remote control. From herding sheep in New Zealand to surveying a Ford plant in Michigan, Spot is proving to be quite useful.
Recently, Spot found another use: measuring the vital signs of coronavirus patients without doctor-to-patient contact. To make Dr. Spot, Boston Dynamics teamed up with MIT researchers who outfitted Spot with “contactless monitoring systems,” which included radio signals and radar-based sensors to measure vital signs like respiratory rate and heart rate. Infrared cameras were used to measure fever. Dr. Spot also has a computer tablet that allows doctors to remotely speak with patients.
Thus far, Dr. Spot has been tested on volunteers at the Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The researchers have written that Dr. Spot can not only help to conserve PPE but can also help curb transmission of coronavirus by keeping hospital staff and patients separate.
Now that Dr. Spot has proven itself useful among volunteers, we’ll see if it’s deployed to real patients.