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    Robot fights coronavirus spread in Brussels hospital

    Credit: UZ Brussel

    The UZ Brussel university hospital will test its social robot, Pepper, to enforce the distance measures among patients and visitors this week.

    The robot, which speaks Dutch and French, will assist the reception staff to remind patients, who come in for consultations, of the basic principles to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19). Making sure everyone adheres to the measures is an important part of ensuring that the hospital remains a safe environment, both for patients and staff.

    It will greet patients before they register at reception, and explain the measures. Everything will happen contactless. Hearing-impaired people can follow the information on the screen on the robot’s chest, the hospital explained.

    Credit: UZ Brussel

    The aim is that the robot will take over a large part of the essential, but very repetitive, task of the reception staff, allowing them to focus even more on the reception of vulnerable people who need help, the hospital stated.

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    To deploy Pepper in the hospital, the UZ Brussel collaborated with the robotics research centre Brubotics of the Free University of Brussels (VUB). The robot is programmed to focus on social interaction with people, in this case, patients who come in for a consultation.

    The first week will be a test week, in which the robot will be monitored closely by human supervisors. This way, patients and staff have some time to get used to the presence of the robot in the hospital.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times