Thai robots for virus response gain global attention

Robots modified by a group of Chulalongkorn University, one of Thailand’s leading universities, students to help hospitals monitor and care for coronavirus patients have gained worldwide media coverage, throwing a spotlight on the Kingdom’s creative and innovative students and healthcare professionals.

Stories and videos about Thailand’s “ninja robots” have published global news agencies, local American newspapers, and websites. The robots are just one of the technologically imaginative ways in which Thais have been coping with the crisis.

“Hospitals in Thailand have begun using “ninja robots” to ease the burden on medical workers and doctors fighting to curb the spread of the coronavirus,” the New York Post reported.

Thailand Focus was among the first to report on the use of the robots in screening coronavirus patients two weeks ago. That news has now gone global.

The robots have been nicknamed “ninjas” because of their appearance, which is dominated by the color black. Their large eyes, however, give them a friendly, even adorable, rather than intimidating, look, easing any tension among patients.

Originally designed to monitor stroke victims, students at Chulalongkorn University Faculty of Engineering modified and repurposed them for the COVID-19 situation.

Robots giving coronavirus tests and taking other data reduces the risk for exposure among doctors, nurses, and other healthcare staff.

“They can stand outside the room and communicate with patients inside through the robot,” said Viboon Sangveraphunsiri of Chulalongkorn University.

Doctors and medical personnel can communicate with the patients through a video screen and speaker just below the ninja’s face, which also displays charts, graphs, and results.

Four Bangkok hospitals are using the robots. Chulalongkorn University said it is now building more and hopes to provide ten other hospitals with the ninjas shortly.

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