TOKYO (JAPAN) – As Japan prepares to go ahead with organising the Olympic games, authorities are considering robots that can perform COVID tests at a rapid rate. Japan’s health minister watched a demonstration of a prototype automated COVID-19 testing machine that uses a robotic arm to take a sample from a person’s nose and can deliver the results in about 80 minutes.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries Inc that manufactured the system says the machine can fit in a standard shipping container that can be transported by truck and can be set up at stadiums, theme parks and other mass gatherings. They added that it offers greater efficiencies of scale and better protection for medical workers, who can even operate testing remotely.
The prototype uses human-driven robotic arms to collect samples from individuals and perform polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. The system is housed in mobile, 40-foot shipping containers that would be able to process up to 2,000 samples every 16 hours.
“Looking at the global trend, we need to increase the number of people receiving tests, and the demand for preventive testing is rising,” Health Minister Norihisa Tamura told reporters at the demonstration.
The use of robot testing systems may help to preserve medical manpower and improve overall accuracy, Tamura said.