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Danish Robot Can Test for Coronavirus

Health + Wellness
Esben Østergaard, co-founder of Lifeline Robotics and Universal Robots, takes a swab in the World's First Automatic Swab Robot, developed with Thiusius Rajeeth Savarimuthu, professor at the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Institute at The University of Southern Denmark. The University of Southern Denmark

By Richard Connor

The University of Southern Denmark on Wednesday announced that its researchers have developed the world's first fully automatic robot capable of carrying out throat swabs for COVID-19.



The equipment uses a 3D-printed disposable arm that is automatically swapped after each patient. The robot takes a swab with a specially designed disposable tool that hits the exact part of the throat from which the sample should be taken.

It then drops the swab into a jar and seals the sample by screwing the lid.

A team of ten researchers has been working around the clock to develop the prototype as quickly as possible.

"I was one of the first to be swabbed by the robot, project leader Professor Thiusius Rajeeth Savarimuthu told the university website "It went really well. I'm still sitting here."

"I was surprised at how softly the robot managed to land the swab at the spot in the throat where it was supposed to hit, so it was a huge success."

The invention could help relieve healthcare workers from the monotonous work of testing. But crucially, it could also reduce their risk of exposure.

The team had found out about the demand for such equipment after speaking to research colleagues at Odense University Hospital.

Hospital medical director Kim Brixen said there was a great advantage in the fact that robots don't get tired and bored of monotonous work.

"Currently, healthcare professionals are carrying out throat swabs for Covid-19; but working conditions can be a challenge," said Brixen. "The task entails long working days of monotonous work. At the same time, the employees are in great demand in other functions."

A prototype to swab patients is expected by the end of June, with plans to have the robots ready for the market by autumn in the event of a second or third wave of the coronavirus.

It's also expected that the technology might be adapted to help with testing for other viruses, such as flu.

Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.

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Former U.S. Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz listens during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken / Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit

By Jake Johnson

Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.

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She says that when people experience these feelings, they often shut down and push information away. So to encourage climate action, she advises not bombarding people with frightening facts.

"When we lead with information, we are actually unwittingly walking right into a situation that is set up to undermine our efforts," she says.

She says if you want to engage people on the topic, take a compassionate approach. Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation.

This conversational approach may seem at odds with the urgency of the issue, but Lertzman says it can get results faster.

"When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker," she says. "And we don't have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency… We do not have time to not take this approach."

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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