Robots often find themselves in dangerous situations, and their distinct lack of biology makes them perfectly suited for battling infectious disease. Next month, a simulcast workshop will determine if and how they’ll join the West African fight against Ebola. Certain robots have already been dispatched at the US hospital in Dallas, Texas, but where those robots were tasked with zapping any and all germs, these machines would have a much more hands-on approach.
Robotics researchers from around the country are working together to come up with technology that could help fight the deadly Ebola outbreak. Scientists are considering telepresence robots that could act as rolling interpreters, autonomous vehicles that could deliver food and medicine, and robots that could decontaminate equipment and help bury the victims of Ebola. “What are the things robotics can do to help?” asked Robin Murphy, a professor of computer science and engineering at Texas A&M University and director of the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue. Robotocists need to learn from the medical and humanitarian communities how the robotic machines can be used to help in this crisis, she said.