Emerging Tech during COVID-19

A personal message:

Hi it’s Rich Walker, Managing Director at Shadow Robot. Let me start with a sincere hello and I hope you’re keeping safe wherever you are.

As you know, a crisis like COVID-19 has shown us just how important health technology solutions can be to safeguard public health agencies and frontline health workers.

To tackle any global threat, it’s evident we need to work together which includes highlighting what advances could be made to either address the crisis now or to better prepare for any catastrophes in the future. Shadow Robot has been exploring how we could “do our bit” using teleoperation and robotics.

Scaling up testing programmes across all countries is crucial at a time like this and we’re interested in supporting our critical workers, particularly those working in labs. If routine, repetitive and time-consuming tasks can be automated, it could help take some pressure off our key workers by freeing up more of their time to focus on their high-value work.

The types of tasks that can be automated include ensuring that the correct amount of medication (with the exact chemical composition and weight) is precisely packed into the appropriate containers, manufacturing tasks (labelling, capping, collating, packing and shipping) and collating medicines to allow faster, around-the-clock processing time for quick delivery.

This work also depends on getting the right supply of people and lab space. With teleoperation, critical workers can perform intricate lab tasks at a safe and comfortable distance – without physically having to be in a lab, and without the need for cumbersome PPE that is in short supply. This reduces the risks to workers as well as keeping labs sterile and reducing the risks of errors and contamination.

Teleoperation will also allow for more remote working in more sectors during social distance and quarantine. It allows workers to control remote robot hands – even from their living rooms – to carry out essential work and allowing businesses to stay in operation.

euRobotics and the European Commission have reached out to us in cases of future pandemics, and we’ve submitted our proposal on how the Tactile Telerobot can help. We’re not market-ready for the demands of tackling COVID-19 but it highlights to us that if we progress the existing technology, we can be ready for times ahead. We shouldn’t fall into complacency and assume COVID-19 is a once-in-a-lifetime challenge, there can be additional phases to this pandemic and there will be new pandemics in the future.

As Managing Director of Shadow Robot, I can sometimes focus on the day to day running and forget to reflect on the important work we do. Today more than ever, I realise we need to crack on in solving real-world problems using robotic technology that can enhance well-being and save lives. Collaborations are welcome, we’re all in this together.

Wishing good health for you, your families, your colleagues and your communities.

Yours sincerely,

Rich Walker

Managing Director, Shadow Robot