A hospital in India has deployed a customer service robot to patrol the ward and connect patients suffering from the novel coronavirus with their friends, family, and relatives. Humanoid Robot, designed and developed by the Bengaluru-based startup Invento Robotics, is deployed at the Yatharth Super Speciality Hospital in Noida Extension, a satellite city of the capital New Delhi.
Named Mitra (meaning “friend” in Hindi), the humanoid is best known for interacting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an event in 2017.
The Mitra robot’s piercing eyes are equipped with facial recognition technology, which helps to recall people it has interacted with before. A tablet attached to Mitra’s chest allows patients to connect via video call with their relatives and friends, as well as with medical staff unable to access the wards.
“It takes a lot of time to recover, and during this time, when patients need their families the most, they are unable to visit,” said Dr. Arun Lakhanpal, a doctor at the Yatharth Super Speciality Hospital in New Delhi, explaining why the robot was used.
The five feet tall robot’s body is made of fiberglass and is equipped with a touchscreen and, once charged, could last up to 8-10 hours. It runs on a propriety operating system and has three degrees of freedom (shoulder, elbow, and finger movements) on each hand and one on the head.
The Mitra robot, which cost the hospital 1 million rupees (around $13,600), is mainly used for patients who cannot communicate with their phones. The robot does not stop there; in fact, Mitra can also be used for remote medical consultations, thus reducing the risk of contracting the infection.