Did you know there are already a million industrial robots out there, and almost half of them are in use in Japan? The COVID-19 outbreak stirred the idea of using robotics in combating the virus as it will lessen person-to-person contact, implying reduced healthcare workers getting infected.
One of the subareas of robotics is robotic sensing that gives robots sensing capabilities, allowing them to be more humanlike. It provides robots the ability to touch, hear, move, and see while using algorithms that need environmental feedback.
With the advancement in robots, their assumed function is becoming more practical, significantly that they can aid healthcare workers throughout the whole treatment process. This article will allow you to know more about robot sensors and their types, their uses, and robotics in the healthcare field.
What are Robot Sensors?
Robotic sensors are essential in estimating a robot’s environment and condition because it enables the controller to activate the appropriate behavior. These behaviors are patterned on the human sensory organ’s function.
In essence, robots provide analogs of human senses and can monitor phenomena that humans could not observe and even measure physical properties like distances. Moreover, it can measure light’s color and intensity, sound frequency, object proximity, color, and absence of an object.
More functions of robot sensors include measuring physical orientation, objects’ coordinates in space, heat, wavelengths like infrared and ultraviolet rays, and temperature. What makes them more efficient is their ability to detect the presence and concentration of chemicals and reactants.
Robotic Sensors Importance
One of the most helpful technologies today is sensors, playing a critical role in robotics. Safety monitoring, interlocking in a work cell, and quality control highly require them, particularly in industrial robotics, for monitoring safety and dangerous conditions. They are essential in preventing physical injuries and damages to human workers.
Interlocks control various equipment that performs a series of activities. Sensors verify the conclusion of a work cycle before proceeding to the next one. Moreover, sensors are used today to inspect quality features as it gives highly accurate results. However, they also have limitations as they cannot examine all features and faults.
Robotics in Healthcare
Because of the pandemic, integration of robotics and telemedicine, or telenursing, becomes highly encouraged. The idea of telenursing will enable healthcare workers to remotely control robots to perform many functions involved in inpatient care.
In layman’s terms, robots will function as the healthcare workers’ eyes, ears, and body.
To make telenursing possible, it would require knowledge of:Robotic manipulationTeleconferencingAugmented realityHealth sensorsLow-latency communication networks
With the advancement in telenursing, healthcare workers can perform a considerable amount of patient care with the help of robots. It will reduce PPE usage and promote social distancing.
There is an accelerating trend in combining robotics and telemedicine in healthcare because of COVID-19’s threats. These technologies can improve measures on social distancing as they can reduce the risk of healthcare personnel and patients getting infected. At present, hospitals use autonomous robots in:Disinfecting rooms with ultraviolet lightDelivering food, medicine, and suppliesGreeting patientsProviding information
In addition, hospitals and nursing schools use telepresence robots like Beam and VGo. These platforms are also called “Skype-on-wheels” as they allow:Communication with patientsVisual inspectionViewing of equipment and monitors
Italy adopted mobile telepresence robots with video screens and touchscreen interface features in their COVID-19 response. Such a move enabled their healthcare workers to check on patients without their presence in quarantine rooms.
Healthcare Professionals and Robotic System
Robots still cannot equate the knowledge and skills of humans. Human healthcare professionals have specialized knowledge, highly adaptable, and well-trained in their field. It sets an extremely high bar that robotic systems could not achieve soon.
Combined telemedicine efforts with robotics are needed to provide the best telenursing to patients. Telemedicine will include healthcare workers’ expertise, while robotics will use their capabilities to enter extreme and hazardous environments.
The recent pandemic tapped the interest in telerobotic systems to allow clinicians to deliver healthcare from a distance. On top of keeping healthcare professionals safe, telenursing robots help provide care for immunocompromised patients and improve healthcare in rural and depressed areas.
Research about telemedicine identified critical features of robots that will bring telenursing to new heights in the future. In a nursing system where robotics is involved, it will require the physical presence of the robot with the patient and a user interface for healthcare professionals to control from an isolated location.
In summary, a robot in telenursing must serve these basic functions:
- Communication through bidirectional audio and video link between staff and patient
- Mobility within or between rooms
- Clinical data collection and assessments
- General manipulation with centimeter to submillimeter accuracy
- Use of human or robot-specific tools
In this time of the pandemic, robotics has been of help in providing healthcare. People should not be wary of their existence as they cannot match the skills and knowledge of humans. They are just there to improve lives and keep humans from hazardous environments.