A pair of 3D structural-sensing robots was developed that could take on basic healthcare tasks to support the work of doctors and nurses. The recent pandemic demonstrates the need to minimize human-to-human interaction between healthcare workers and patients. Sensing robots could be used to measure essential healthcare information on behalf of care providers.

The research team programmed two robots — a humanoid figure and a robotic arm — to measure human physiological signals. The robotic arm, created using 3D-printed origami structures, contains biomedical electrodes on the tip of each finger. When the hand touches a person, it detects physiological signals including those from an electrocardiogram (monitors heartbeat), respiration rate, electromyogram (monitors electrical signals from muscle movements), and temperature.

The humanoid robot can also monitor oxygen levels, which could be used to monitor the condition of those who develop severe COVID-19. The data can be viewed in real time on the robot’s monitor or sent directly to the healthcare provider.

The team plans further development and testing of the robot together with healthcare collaborators. At this stage, the robots are capable of passively gathering patient information but the goal is that healthcare robots fitted with artificial intelligence could take a more active role, interacting with the patient, processing the data they have collected, and even prescribing medication.

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