How China, the US, and Europe are using robots to replace and help humans fight coronavirus by delivering groceries, sanitizing hospitals, and monitoring patients

REUTERS/Sivaram VRobots in Kochi, India.
  • The coronavirus outbreak that originated in China has killed more than 48,000 people worldwide and infected more than 965,000, according to recent totals.
  • The virus, which causes a disease known as COVID-19, has spread to 169 countries, and the majority of infections and deaths are now outside of China.
  • As the outbreak spreads, robots are being used to disinfect, take temperatures, and even prepare food.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Around the world, robots are being used to minimise the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, by taking on cleaning and food preparation jobs that are considered dangerous for humans.

The coronavirus disease that originated in Wuhan, China, has now killed more than 50,000 people and infected more than 980,000 people worldwide. On March 11, the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially declared it a pandemic. The virus has disrupted travel worldwide, leading to flight cancellations, quarantines, and other breakdowns in movement and supply chains.

Take a look at some of the clever ways robots are used around the world to slow the spread of the coronavirus and help healthcare workers.


In Wuhan, where the outbreak started, a robot spraying disinfectant moves through a residential area of the city.

China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty ImagesSanitizing robots.

Source: Business Insider


Volunteers refilled the robot with disinfectant on March 3.

China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty ImagesSanitizing robots.

Workers on scooters control the robot.

REUTERSSanitizing robots.

A patrol robot in a Shenyang, China, hospital checks temperatures and disinfects people and spaces.

Photo by STR/AFP via Getty ImagesTemperature monitor robot.

These robots are used at hospitals to cut down on demands on medical staff.

Photo by STR/AFP via Getty ImagesTemperature monitor robot.

Hangzhou, China, is yet another city using robots to disinfect large areas.

Photo by STR/AFP via Getty ImagesSanitizing robots.

They’re controlled via remote control, and can be seen getting refilled here.

Photo by STR/AFP via Getty ImagesSanitizing robots.

Hangzhou’s disinfecting robots look notably different from those in Wuhan and Shenyang, resembling miniature tanks.

Photo by STR/AFP via Getty ImagesSanitizing robots.

Another robot disinfectant in Luoyang is remote-controlled and able to climb stairs.

REUTERSSanitizing robots.

Anhui, China has a fleet of disinfecting robots ready to start working.

Photo by TPG/Getty ImagesSanitizing robots.

This hand sanitizer-dispensing robot was photographed in Shanghai on March 4.

REUTERSSanitizing robots.

On March 11, robots in the Hunan province in China conduct morning temperature checks.

Xinhua/Chen Zeguo via Getty ImagesTemperature monitor robot.

Engineers have also modified the robots to record data, give feedback, and even disinfect people’s hands.

Xinhua/Chen Zeguo via Getty ImagesTemperature monitor robot.

Immediate feedback can make the containment process faster and more efficient.

Xinhua/Chen Zeguo via Getty ImagesTemperature monitor robot.

Robots are being used for more than just disinfecting areas with coronavirus. A hospital in Ezhou has incorporated a robot chef into its kitchen.

Photo by Shi Xiaojie/China News Service via Getty ImagesFood prep robot.

The robot can reportedly produce 100 pots of rice per hour.

Photo by Shi Xiaojie/China News Service via Getty ImagesFood prep robot.

The robot operates without human supervision, which minimizes the number of people in the hospital exposed to the virus.

Photo by Shi Xiaojie/China News Service via Getty ImagesFood prep robot.

Sharing food presents an opportunity to spread the virus, so some cities have been incorporating robots in food service and preparation.

Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty ImagesFood prep robot.

This robot delivered food to diners in Hangzhou.

Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty ImagesFood prep robot.

Beijing-based Zhen Robotics says that its yellow robots are in demand to deliver groceries and patrol malls for people not wearing face masks.

Photo by Simon Song/South China Morning Post via Getty ImagesDelivery robot.

Engineering students at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok modified medical “ninja robots” designed for stroke patients to make them useful with patients who have COVID-19.

Photo by LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty ImagesThai ninja robot.

Source: Business Insider


The robots can take patients’ temperatures and protect the safety of healthcare workers by reducing interactions with sick people.

Photo by LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty ImagesThai ninja robot.

They also have a screen, allowing doctors to video chat with sick patients.

Photo by LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty ImagesThai ninja robot.

Postmates delivery robots deliver food in Los Angeles.

Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC ImagesPostmates delivery robot.

Los Angeles is one of many US cities that closed all non-essential businesses due to COVID-19, and restaurants are allowed to stay open only for takeout and delivery.

AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC ImagesPostmates delivery robot.

A hospital in Johannesburg, South Africa is using a UV light robot to disinfect the facility.

Photo by MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty ImagesSanitizing robot.

The hospital is using UV light instead of hydrogen peroxide, because it cuts cleaning time down from hours to five or ten minutes.

Photo by MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty ImagesSanitizing robot.

UV light also poses less danger to healthcare workers than hydrogen peroxide.

Photo by MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty ImagesSanitizing robot.

Startup Asimov Robotics launched two robots to spread awareness of the coronavirus in India.

REUTERS/Sivaram VRobots distributing hand sanitizer and face masks.

They distribute face masks and hand sanitizer…

REUTERS/Sivaram VRobots distributing hand sanitizer and face masks.

…along with information about preventing the virus.

REUTERS/Sivaram VRobots distributing hand sanitizer and face masks.

A self-driving Starship robot drops off deliveries in Emerson Valley, Britain.

REUTERS/Andrew BoyersDelivery robot.

The robot goes right to people’s door, eliminating the need for contact between people.

REUTERS/Andrew BoyersDelivery robot.

Belgian company ZoraBots made a robot designed for elderly people to communicate with loved ones from the safety of their own homes.

REUTERS/Yves HermanVideo call robot.

The robot has video and audio so people can still talk while sheltering at home, keeping the most vulnerable people socially connected.

REUTERS/Yves HermanVideo call robot.

Edeka grocery store chain in Germany has a robot called “Prepper” stationed at cash registers.

Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty ImagesPrepper robot.

The robot has information about protective measures people should take, telling them to keep their distance from each other.

Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty ImagesPrepper robot.

A Tunisian police robot is remotely operated and equipped with infrared and thermal imaging cameras, plus an alarm system.

Photo by FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty ImagesTunisian police robot.

The robot patrols the streets to enforce the lockdown.

Photo by FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty ImagesTunisian police robot.

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