Tsinghua robot responds rapidly to COVID-19

A Tsinghua University-developed robot that can patrol isolation wards was put into trial use on Monday in Beijing Ditan Hospital, a designated hospital for COVID-19 treatment, to reduce workloads and risks of the frontline medical workers fighting the novel coronavirus.

The design, development, and clinical trials of the medical robot were finished in just 31 days.

With a design based on innovative integration of existing technologies, the robot is also functionally tailored to the requirements of the Beijing Tsinghua Changgung Hospital’s onsite medical teams working at the frontline in Wuhan hospitals.

The robot can imitate doctors’ manual operation to a remarkable extent, with three modes available: teleoperation, autonomous and their combination.

The robot can substitute for medical staff on routine rounds, and perform such tasks as temperature-taking, auscultation of heart and breath sounds, ultrasonic examination of cardiopulmonary and vascular (peripheral artery and vena cava) conditions, respiratory sampling (throat swabs), distribution of medication, and delivery.

Jointly initiated by Tsinghua University’s School of Aerospace Engineering and its Institute for Precision Medicine, the robot project was first discussed on Jan 25, with university-wide contribution and support from its School of Aerospace Engineering, Beijing Tsinghua Changgung Hospital, the Tianjin Research Institute for Advanced Equipment, the Department of Computer Science and Technology, the School of Vehicle and Mobility, and the Fundamental Industry Training Center.

The Tsinghua University medical robot is remotely controlled by an MD candidate (right) at the entrance to Beijing Ditan Hospital on Feb 24, 2020.

With design completed in three days and system assembly and system integrated testing done in seven days, the robot was put into clinical trials sixteen days after initial discussions and were quickly ready for user trials.


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