Scientists create special nose-swabbing robot to test for COVID-19

In the future, a special robot designed to help protect healthcare workers may test you for the flu, COVID-19, and other pathogens that require a nose swab. The contraption was created by engineers at the Korea Institute of Machinery & Materials (KIMM), which explains that the robot can be also be used to swab a patient's throat for conditions like strep.

In order to test a patient for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, trained healthcare workers must insert a long, slim swab deeply into the patient's nose. This process may be uncomfortable for the recipient, but it is potentially worse for the worker, possibly exposing them to particles that carry the virus.

With this newly developed robot, these healthcare workers can instead place the swab in the grip of a very agile robot, then use a joystick and remote display to guide the swab into the patient's nose (or throat, depending on which condition is being tested). In addition to being able to see the patient, the healthcare worker can also talk to them using audio communication systems.

The engineers expect that their robot will significantly reduce the number of healthcare workers who end up contracting an illness while performing these intimate tests. In addition, the team deliberately made their robot to be inexpensive and small enough for use in ordinary doctors' offices and other healthcare settings.

Talking about the development is KIMM's Dr. Joonho Seo, who said:

This technology allows samples to be retrieved from persons presenting symptoms of high-risk diseases even without direct contact. I expect it to be useful in the screening of high-risk diseases like COVID-19, and hope it will contribute to the safety and well-being of medical personnel during pandemics and epidemics.

Images via KIMM