ReviewROBOTS AND SOCIETY

Progress in robotics for combating infectious diseases

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Science Robotics  31 Mar 2021:
Vol. 6, Issue 52, eabf1462
DOI: 10.1126/scirobotics.abf1462

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Abstract

The world was unprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, and recovery is likely to be a long process. Robots have long been heralded to take on dangerous, dull, and dirty jobs, often in environments that are unsuitable for humans. Could robots be used to fight future pandemics? We review the fundamental requirements for robotics for infectious disease management and outline how robotic technologies can be used in different scenarios, including disease prevention and monitoring, clinical care, laboratory automation, logistics, and maintenance of socioeconomic activities. We also address some of the open challenges for developing advanced robots that are application oriented, reliable, safe, and rapidly deployable when needed. Last, we look at the ethical use of robots and call for globally sustained efforts in order for robots to be ready for future outbreaks.

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