Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar Universities Invent Robots to Prevent Spread of COVID-19 in Hospitals

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 28 April 2020

YANGON—Two locally-designed and manufactured robots that may help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have been deployed at the makeshift Pyaunggyi COVID-19 medical center on the outskirts of Yangon.

The robots will be used to transport food, medicine and trash at the medical center, reducing contact between health care workers and patients and lowering the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

One robot, called the trolley robot or TR 201, was invented by the Mechatronic Engineering Department at Yangon Technological University (YTU) and consists of a rolling drink trolley outfitted with sensors so that it can move along a path automatically, eliminating the need for person-to-person contact. The other robot, the container robot or CR 201, was invented by the Mechatronic Engineering Department at Mandalay Technological University (MTU) and can carry items in a container or basket.

The idea to invent the robots came about after Senior Professor Dr. Sabal Phyu from Yangon’s Waibargi Hospital proposed the concept to State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as a way to reduce the number of times patients and medical staff come into contact with one another.

“We mainly aim to reduce the instances of contact between patients and medical staff using this robot,” said Dr. Daw Phyu Phyu Tun, who directed the invention of the trolley robot at YTU.

Dr. Daw Phyu Phyu Tun told The Irrawaddy that the project behind the robots began because of an order from the Education Ministry to work to assist the Health Ministry in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, the Education Ministry donated three additional trolley robots as well as a remote-controlled spray cleaning robot to the Health Ministry.

The Education Ministry has now provided additional funding to the country’s technological universities to invent more robots for hospitals.

“Virus transmission rates would be reduced if we can reduce the instances of contact with patients using these robots,” said Dr. Ko Ko Naing, the medical superintendent of the Phaunggyi makeshift COVID-19 medical center.

The medical center was recently set up by the Yangon government on the site of the Central Institute of Civil Service (Phaunggyi) in Hlegu Township.

The medical center has no patients yet but is set up to accommodate up to 200 patients as the two hospitals currently treating COVID-19 patients in Yangon reach their capacities.

The Education Ministry has also donated a speaker drone, to communicate messages remotely, and an autopilot sprayer drone to the Health Ministry. The drones were also invented by teachers and students from technological universities.

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