How 5G-powered robots are helping China fight coronavirus

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5G patrol robots are being deployed to monitor mask-wearing and body temperatures in public places while an intelligent robot developed in a week will be used to disinfect hospitals.

China is using 5G patrol robots to monitor mask-wearing and body temperatures in public places to help fight the coronavirus.

The robots have been developed by Guangzhou Gosuncn Robot Company, using technology from Internet of Things hardware and software specialist Advantech. So far, they have been deployed in airports and shopping malls in cities such as Guangzhou, Shanghai, Xi’an and Guiyang.

Meanwhile, intelligent disinfection robots developed in a week from design to sample production by Siemens and Aucma will soon be used in some of China’s hospitals.

Patrol robots

Following the outbreak of Covid-19, the Guangzhou Gosuncn Robot Company, which provides smart city IoT products and services, upgraded its 5G-powered police patrol robot with new capabilities to assist first-line police officers in conducting disease prevention inspections.

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Because the manual measurement of body temperature exposes public safety personnel to potential health risks, these robots are equipped with five high-resolution cameras and infrared thermometers capable of scanning the temperature of 10 people simultaneously within a radius of 5 metres.

If a high temperature or the absence of a mask is detected, the robots send an alert to the relevant authorities. All data can be transmitted to a centralised control centre for real-time situational response and decision-making. Moreover, although these robots are self-driving machines, they can also be controlled remotely, saving manpower by reducing patrolling responsibilities and preventing cross-infection.

Gosuncn’s 5G patrol robots integrate IoT, AI, cloud computing and big data technologies to conduct environmental sensing, dynamic decision-making and autonomous motion control, as well as behavioural sensing and interaction.

To enable such advanced computing, 5G patrol robots are powered by a high-performance industrial edge computer (MIC-770), developed by Advantech.

To withstand 24/7 operation under extreme conditions, the MIC-770’s ruggedised chassis and cast aluminium heatsink protect against vibration and shock.

The Gosuncn Robot Company's management control system

Disinfection robots

Siemens and Aucma began developing the intelligent disinfection robots in February. The project was initiated by Yu Qi, head of Siemens China’s research group for advanced manufacturing automation in Qingdao, who said a piece of news “caught his eye” that said disinfection robots were urgently needed in many hospitals. He quickly gained support from management and colleagues to create a new type of intelligent disinfection robot.

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Most disinfection robots available on the market combine a petrol-driven mistoriser gun with an electric chassis. On-site refuelling of robots is neither clean nor convenient, though, so the team decided to develop purely electric robots to better cater to the needs of affected areas.

An article on the Siemens website explains that among the challenges the development team faced was maximising the sterilisation impact with less disinfectant consumption and providing 360-degree coverage even in confined areas.

Powered by a lithium battery, a robot with double mistoriser guns can disinfect 20,000 to 36,000 sqm in one hour. An omnidirectional camera platform on the top transmits videos and information in real-time, coupled with an intelligent vision algorithm that allows the operator to remotely locate affected areas and prevent the spread of infectious diseases at low cost.

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To make the robots operate easily on various road surfaces, the team adopted a caterpillar chassis instead of wheels to improve their ability to surmount obstacles and climb slopes.

With breakthroughs in both structural design and autonomous control systems, the team submitted two applications for national patents. The newly developed disinfection robots are ready to be launched and will soon be deployed in front-line hospitals.

In addition, more robots will be delivered to schools, offices, manufacturing sites and other public places to support the resumption of work and production.

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