While Germany is debating whether to bring thousands of doctors back to the vaccination centres, Canadian researchers present the first AI-controlled, fully automated vaccinator: Cobi. //next reveals how the digital physician could be used - and links to an illustrative video.
The prototype was developed by Canadian start-up Cobionix, a spin-off from the University of Waterloo. According to the university, it is the world's first robot that has successfully performed an intramuscular injection - without using a hypodermic needle.
According to online magazine New Atlas, the researchers' vision is that one day, after pre-registering online for a vaccination, patients will show up at a clinic or other location that uses a Cobi robot - and identify themselves with their ID card or other proof of identity via a camera on the device's touchscreen interface. 3D depth sensors, meanwhile, have detected that the patient has arrived.
Once the vaccinee has been identified, the Cobi robotic arm retrieves a vial of vaccine from its integrated storage compartment (see video below). A LiDAR sensor then creates a 3D digital map of the patient, which is analysed by AI-based software to determine the optimal injection site.
“Autonomous solutions such as Cobi could protect healthcare workers, reduce healthcare costs, and improve patient outcomes,” says Nima Zamani, co-founder and CTO of Cobionix, according to a press release: “The autonomous nature of Cobi also dramatically reduces the infrastructure requirements of vaccine clinics which could help reach populations in remote areas with limited access to medical care.”
“Cobi is a versatile robotics platform that can be rapidly deployed to complete tasks with 100 per cent autonomy,” adds Tim Lasswell, co-founder and CEO of Cobionix: “We outfitted Cobi to use a needle-free injection technology and to demonstrate that patients could receive intramuscular injections, such as vaccines, without needles and no involvement from a healthcare professional.”
Text: Ingo Schenk