A handful of hospitals have started using robots to assist frontline workers dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and to connect the patients with their loved ones.

According to CNN, the robots, designed by Bangalore-based Invento Robotics, carry out tasks ranging from disinfecting hospital surfaces to answering patient's questions, and enabling video consultations with doctors.

The most popular of the right models deployed by the company, is known as "Mitra", which means friend in Hindi, and costs around US$10,000.

"Mitra can be the nurse's or doctor's assistant, take readings and vital, and remind them of medications," Balaji Viswanathan, CEO of Invento Robotics was quoted telling CNN.

"It may sound ironic, but we are using robots to bring humanity to hospitals," Balaji added.

Among others, Mitra is equipped with facial recognition technology, which enables it to recall names and faces of patients it has dealt with, and roam the hospital independently while helping patients connect with their families, or doctors, via the camera or video screen attached to its chest.

Mitra is also able to screen patients for coronavirus symptoms, at hospital entrances and in the intensive care unit.

If an instance where an in-dept telemedicine consultation is needed, a booth is built around the robot to give patients privacy.

Balaji started building the robots after moving to Bangalore in 2016, from Boston, USA, after completing his doctorate in robotic interaction. Together with his wife, Mahalakshmi Radhakrushnun, who is in manufacturing, the couple wanted to create robots that improved patient care in hospitals and care homes.

At first, clients were hard to find in the healthcare industry so the couple ended supplying robots to banks that could identify visitors, print passes and receive customer feedback, in India, as well as in Qatar.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the demand from hospitals started surging.

Besides Invento Robotics, several other companies are supplying similar machines to hospitals in India, namely Milagrow Robotics, and Asimov Robotics, which dispatches home cleaning robots and ones that dispense medicine and clean up after patients, respectively.

India remains the third worst hit country by the pandemic, with over 12.3 million cases, and more than 163,000 deaths. The top two are the United States, and Brazil, respectively.

Source: CNN
Photo source: CNN