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Robots in the Time of Pandemics Fortnight

The COVID-19 virus is sweeping the world. Science fiction has posited the use of robots in medicine ever since The Machine Stops in 1909, but robots specifically assisting with an outbreak or epidemic doesn’t appear until 1969 with the Andromeda Strain.

robotics in the time of pandemics fortnight

The Andromeda Strain, both the book and movie, features the realistic use of robots but only for logistics (transportation, manipulation, and analysis of contaminated materials) one of the four broad categories of how robots can be used for an epidemic discussed at

The other three are clinical help, surveillance/security/reconnaissance, and continuity of work and government. Clinical use of robots for an epidemic is the one most of think of as where robotics would be applied and following Mike Crawford’s ASME article there are six general application areas:

  • Telemedicine/telepresence

  • Surgical assistants

  • Rehabilitation robots

  • Supply chain

  • Sanitation/disinfectant/decontamination robots

  • Prescription/meal dispensing robots

For this fortnight, RTSF will:

  • Review the sequel to the Andromeda Strain

  • Review Daniel H. Wilson’s the Andromeda Evolution, a very engaging technothriller with lots of robots

  • Post an interview with Dr. Howard Chizek, a leader in teleoperation

  • Discuss the use of robots in medicine

  • Plus make some suggestions for streaming for you and the family

So, it's going to be a busy fortnight and if you don't want to miss out and for a chance to win a signed copy of Robotics Through Science Fiction, make sure you sign up to our newsletter (bottom of the page).

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