UTM, HCTM & DF Automation Develop Hospital Delivery Robot ‘Mak Cik Kiah 19’ to Ace COVID-19
JOHOR BAHRU , 7 Apr. — Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Hospital Canselor Tuanku Muhriz UKM (HCTM) and DF Automation & Robotics Sdn Bhd (DF) have joint together in a significant collaboration to develop a Hospital Delivery Robot System.
The robot, named MCK19 or Makcik Kiah 19, is the First Malaysian Made Delivery Robot for hospitals to assist healthcare frontliners in assisting the delivery of healthcare to patients with COVID-19.
The project embarked during the beginning of the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced.
Figure: A user is interacting with MCK19.
MCK19 uses Zalpha, a DF’s commercial robot that can accommodate weight up to 300kg in its shelves and able to navigate autonomously to assist doctors or nurses in delivering food or medicine to a patient’s room.
The usage of these robots especially MCK19 will reduce the exposure of healthcare professionals and frontliners to patients under investigations (PUI) that may be highly contagious and need to be in isolation.
Hence, it would also decrease in the need for PPEs as hospitals are facing a global shortage.
This prototype had been modified and integrated with compartments’ storage which can be customised according to need.
There is a LCD screen on the robot to show an animated face to make the robot more human friendly, and soon, it can be used for teleconference between doctors from his room/office with patients, without having the doctor to go to the their room.
Figure: Left picture: Compartment’s shelves that can be customised. Right Top picture: LCD screen shows animated friendly face. Bottom Right Picture: Graphical User Interface.
This robot is also an IoT robot where it can be accessed by any PC, tablets or phones, allowing users to interact with the robot even if the users are not at the hospital’s premise.
In addition, there is also a security feature in place to allow access by authorised admin only.
The working prototype that took less than two weeks to develop is made possible with the strong support from all parties especially from MOSTI, MITI, MTDC, HCTM, UTM, DF, Ministry of Health, hospitals and industries.
This project is led by co-founder of DF, Assoc. Prof. Dr Yeong Che Fai from School of Electrical Engineering, UTM.
According to him, as DF has provided robotic solutions to industry since 2012, we leverage the robots and experiences we have to achieve the social distance requirement in hospitals between humans during this critical time.
“Robots can help with many tasks to reduce human presence such as for delivering, disinfection, cleaning, monitoring, service and many more.
It is unfortunate that COVID-19 happened and strikes us without any warning. One of the solutions to deal with COVID-19 is to maintain social distance between humans.
MCK19 will be our first pilot trial, if this robot works well, we will proceed to other applications.” he added.
“On behalf of HCTM (UKM), I am very pleased to collaborate with MOSTI and the team from UTM and DF to develop a hospital delivery robot hospital, the first in Malaysia.
This would be inaugural which is especially useful to aid our overwhelmed healthcare system during this pandemic and outbreak.
I foresee robotics and automation will play an important part in hospitals in near future to enhance the delivery of health care, ” he added.
UTM Vice-Chancellor, Prof Datuk Ir Dr Wahid bin Omar said the invention of this robot is another UTM’s helping hand in combating the virus, along with university’s initiatives of to prosper lives.
“As a university that is blessed with multiple expertise, we believe it is our responsibility to help the government especially the frontliners who are struggling to serve the people in this trying times for us all.
Thus through this collaboration we hope that together, we can break the the Covid-19 chain soon,” he added.
MCK19 is expected to be tested at HCTM at the end of this week. If the robot is found useful, DF will commit to mass produce the robot to supply to hospitals in Malaysia or any organisations who need it.
For the long term, the team is planning to produce a more human friendly look and design as in the figure below.
31st of December, 2019 marked the date where several pneumonia cases arose in Wuhan City, in the Hubei Province of China. The World Health Organization (WHO) was the first to recognise that this case did not match any other known viruses. After going through some research, the Chinese authorities later confirmed that it is a new virus and it is temporarily named as “2019-nCOV”. Later, WHO named it as “COVID-19” which stands for ‘CoronaVirus Disease 2019’ on the 11th of February.
The virus somehow spread rapidly and on the 11th of March, the United Nations agency responsible for international public health declared it a pandemic. The government is currently committed to tackle this problem by reducing the number of new cases rapidly.
COVID-19 in Malaysia
On the 25th of January, Malaysia announced the first COVID-19 case involving three tourists from Singapore who entered Malaysia through Johor on the 23rd of January. The first wave of these cases were detected on the 16th February where the cases rose to 22. By the 27th, the second wave started after 11 days of no new cases being reported. The number of affected people had risen to more than 1000 cases later on.
The Malaysian government took proactive actions to fight over the number of new cases by imposing a two-week RMO (Restriction of Movement Order) which started on the 18th of March and will end on the 31st of March. However, the number of new cases is not reducing; hence the government decided on a two-week extension of RMO, which will end by the 14th of April.
In this hectic situation, solutions are needed to effectively combat the disease. One of the solutions is by preventing individuals from being in direct or indirect contact with the virus. Besides quarantining the infected ones, there are risks that the healthy ones might have been infected. For example, nurses might be infected while they were serving their patients; a bus driver has the chance to contact the infected one in the bus; an officer has a risk too during the disinfection activity. Considering the aforementioned risks, the usage of the Autonomous mobile robot (AMR) could be a helping hand in replacing humans to do all these high infection risk tasks. Robots are immune to the virus and they can be run in a long period of time. You can learn more about AMR here AMR: The new look of AGV.
How can AMR help to fight against Virus?
Autonomous Mobile Robot can assist frontliners to fight COVID-19 in many areas such as to carry out disinfection activity, temperature measurement at public space, medicine delivery in hospitals and food delivery. Other advantages are outlined here: Advantages and Disadvantages of AMR.
Disinfection is one of the main activities in combating COVID-19. Certain areas where the risk of infection is high have to be disinfected, such as hospitals, markets and public transports. For example, in disinfecting a bus, the process involved people to spray disinfectant on the entire surface in the bus before wiping them down. One disinfect process will take around 40 minutes with two human powers. Plus, there are always certain corners that cannot be reached or covered by humans.
Another great alternative is by using the Ultraviolet (UV) Rays which can disinfect the area in five minutes only (source). According to the latest diagnosis and treatment guideline of the novel coronavirus released by the National Commission, the virus is sensitive to UV light and heat. In other words, UV radiation can eliminate the virus effectively. As stated in the guideline, UV light with an intensity of over 1.5 watts per square meter can be used to disinfect indoor spaces. Ventilation should be done to a room after UV disinfection, and people are suggested to enter the room 30 minutes after the process. Although it is effective to kill the virus by using UV lamps, the usage of UV lamps should be cautious as UV radiation can result in skin irritation. Thus it is not suitable for sterilising hands or other parts of the skin (source).
Although UV is able to disinfect the area in five minutes, it requires manual labor to transport the platform from one location to another. In addition, UV rays require a 30 minutes settling time which increases the cycle time. This is where the AMR has the advantage as AMR is able to complete the process automatically without involving any human presence. This also minimizes the chance of infection and reduces exposure to the UV light too. The figure below illustrates the proposed design of AMR with UV and Spraying disinfect equipment.
DF is looking for partners – it could be you!
As the government has pulled out tremendous actions to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases, DF intends to contribute an effort for the government in fighting COVID-19 by developing solutions like autonomous UV disinfecting, disinfectant spraying or temperature reading by using AMR. We are actively looking for partners who are experts especially in the field of cleaning, disinfection, sterilisation or hospital operation to collaborate with us to make this project a success. We do hope that we can help to eliminate the virus with these innovations. Feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you are interested to explore further. Take care and stay safe.
Figure: Illustration shows proposed AMR design in performing autonomous disinfection using UV and Spraying.
Figure: Another concept of disinfection using spraying with Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR)