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

Image
Robots in Kochi, India. REUTERS/Sivaram V
  • 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.

Image
Sanitizing robots. China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


Volunteers refilled the robot with disinfectant on March 3.

Image
Sanitizing robots. China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

Workers on scooters control the robot.

Image
Sanitizing robots. REUTERS

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

Image
Temperature monitor robot. Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

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

Image
Temperature monitor robot. Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

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

Image
Sanitizing robots. Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

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

Image
Sanitizing robots. Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

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

Image
Sanitizing robots. Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images

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

Image
Sanitizing robots. REUTERS

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

Image
Sanitizing robots. Photo by TPG/Getty Images

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

Image
Sanitizing robots. REUTERS

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

Image
Temperature monitor robot. Xinhua/Chen Zeguo via Getty Images

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

Image
Temperature monitor robot. Xinhua/Chen Zeguo via Getty Images

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

Image
Temperature monitor robot. Xinhua/Chen Zeguo via Getty Images

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

Image
Food prep robot. Photo by Shi Xiaojie/China News Service via Getty Images

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

Image
Food prep robot. Photo by Shi Xiaojie/China News Service via Getty Images

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

Image
Food prep robot. Photo by Shi Xiaojie/China News Service via Getty Images

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

Image
Food prep robot. Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

This robot delivered food to diners in Hangzhou.

Image
Food prep robot. Feature China/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

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

Image
Delivery robot. Photo by Simon Song/South China Morning Post via Getty Images

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.

Image
Thai ninja robot. Photo by LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images

Source: Business Insider


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

Image
Thai ninja robot. Photo by LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images

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

Image
Thai ninja robot. Photo by LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images

Postmates delivery robots deliver food in Los Angeles.

Image
Postmates delivery robot. Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

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.

Image
Postmates delivery robot. AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

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

Image
Sanitizing robot. Photo by MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty Images

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

Image
Sanitizing robot. Photo by MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty Images

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

Image
Sanitizing robot. Photo by MICHELE SPATARI/AFP via Getty Images

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

Image
Robots distributing hand sanitizer and face masks. REUTERS/Sivaram V

They distribute face masks and hand sanitizer…

Image
Robots distributing hand sanitizer and face masks. REUTERS/Sivaram V

…along with information about preventing the virus.

Image
Robots distributing hand sanitizer and face masks. REUTERS/Sivaram V

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

Image
Delivery robot. REUTERS/Andrew Boyers

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

Image
Delivery robot. REUTERS/Andrew Boyers

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

Image
Video call robot. REUTERS/Yves Herman

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

Image
Video call robot. REUTERS/Yves Herman

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

Image
Prepper robot. Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

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

Image
Prepper robot. Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

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

Image
Tunisian police robot. Photo by FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images

The robot patrols the streets to enforce the lockdown.

Image
Tunisian police robot. Photo by FETHI BELAID/AFP via Getty Images