Kenya has received three trial robots to help fight the ongoing pandemic. The ‘anti-COVID-19’ robots were presented on Friday January 22, 2021 to Health Cabinet Secretary Mr. Mutahi Kagwe, from United Nation Development Programme (UNDP).
The Japanese government funded the creation of the three robots named Tumaini, Jasiri and Shujaa hoping that the new invention will help curb the disease. The three, robots were made by UBtech, a Chinese robotics company and will help the government in fighting the pandemic. With their massive scanning capability, a single robot can reportedly scan 10 to 100 people per minute up to 3.5 metres away.
They can detect individuals without masks, and even those that have worn a mask inappropriately then issue alerts to the individual and officials.
In addition to these functions, the robots will also help in disinfection and broadcasting health messages relating to the pandemic. These robots can also record audio and video and report anomalies like high temperatures. In the case of high temperatures, the robots will immediately start disinfection.
“They will assist in temperature screening, disinfection, communication of health messages and data capture,” Kagwe said during the launch. Mr Kagwe said they would deploy the robots at the Kenyatta National Hospital and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). “I have every confidence that all of our travellers, foremost the tourists visiting Kenya, will appreciate the ability of these robots,” said Kagwe.
Kenya follows Rwanda which launched similar robots on May 2020. To minimize contact time with confirmed cases and therefore reducing the risk of contamination of health professionals in COVID-19 treatment centres, robots were deployed. At Gatenga and Kanyinya treatment centres in Kigali City, visits by medical staff to patients went from 3-4 to 2 per day since May 2020. The five human-size robots are programmed to perform temperature screening, take readings of vitals, deliver video messages and detect people not wearing masks then instruct them to wear masks properly. The five robots were launched by the Ministry of Health. Named in Kinyarwanda, Akazuba, Ikirezi, Mwiza, Ngabo, and Urumuri are made by Zora Bots, a Belgian company specialised in robotics. They were acquired through a partnership between the UNDP Rwanda Accelerator Lab (AccLab) and the Ministry of ICT and Innovation. Each robot costs about $30,000. Urumuri is deployed at the Kigali International Airport with the capacity to screen 50 to 150 people per minute and report abnormalities to officers on duty.