Coronavirus US: Boston Dynamics' robot dog detects symptoms

A hospital in Massachusetts has found another job for Spot, Boston Dynamics' dog-like robot: Doctor.

The yellow-and-black quadruped has been proven able to take patients' vital signs from a distance of over six feet.

That could allow healthcare workers to keep a safe distance from patients who may be infected with the coronavirus or other contagion.

So far, Spot has only been tested on healthy patients at Harvard Medical School's Brigham and Women's Hospital - the next step would be to try it out in an emergency room setting. 

Researchers at MIT say they've developed cameras that allow Spot, Boston Dynamics' dog-like robot, to take vital signs from more than six feet away. The VitalCam could allow health care workers to maintain social distancing while examining patients who may have COVID-19

Researchers at MIT say they've developed cameras that allow Spot, Boston Dynamics' dog-like robot, to take vital signs from more than six feet away. The VitalCam could allow health care workers to maintain social distancing while examining patients who may have COVID-19

The Boston hospital initially used Spot simply as a walking iPad: A tablet mounted on its 'face' allowed doctors to speak with patients approaching the hospital and triage those who needed immediate care.

The robot is operated from a distance using a handheld device, according to MIT News.  

But in a new report, researchers at MIT say they've proven Spot can measure pulse rate, temperature and other diagnostics from more than six-and-a-half-feet away. 

To achieve this, they developed VitalCam, four different cameras mounted on Spot. 

Spot's VitalCam incorporates four different cameras - an infrared camera that measures temperature and breathing rate, and three others that filter different wavelengths of light to gauge pulse and blood oxygen saturation

Spot's VitalCam incorporates four different cameras - an infrared camera that measures temperature and breathing rate, and three others that filter different wavelengths of light to gauge pulse and blood oxygen saturation

An infrared camera measures temperature and breathing rate, even through a mask, while three other cameras filter different wavelengths of light to gauge pulse rate and blood oxygen saturation. 

Spot's abilities have only been tested on healthy subjects, but the team says its ready for real-world application. 

If it meets with FDA approval, the VitalCam could save time, resources and possibly even lives. 

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