IIM-K’s robotic arm to help speedy collection of coronavirus samples

IIM-K’s robotic arm to help speedy collection of coronavirus samples The robotic arm has special soft grip feature for kids. (Source: video grab/ IIMK)
Team Careers360 | May 29, 2020 - 10:25 a.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: To allow for the safe and speedy collection of samples for testing a patient for coronavirus, a start-up incubated at Indian Institute of Management-Kozhikode has developed a robotic arm.

The prototype can be remotely controlled for a safer sample collection process. The manual swab collection, which requires health workers to engage in physical contact, will be eliminated by this method.

With a 180-degree rotation, the grip of the robotic arm is extendable up to one meter. The movement of the arm and its operations can be easily controlled with an android app through a physical glass barrier.

The functional prototype has been designed and developed by an incubated startup ispAgro at IIM-K which specializes in drone and robotics technology. The start-up has been seed-funded by the collaborative initiative between IIMK LIVE, the business incubator and entrepreneurship development centre of the institute and Mangalore Refineries and Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL).

The achievement of the institute has also been lauded by the education minister, Ramesh Pokhriyal 'Nishank'.

On his official Twitter account, Pokhriyal wrote: “ IIM Kozhikode incubatee startup has developed #COVID Swab Collection Robot, #Coronawarrier that collects samples using a robotic arm. Other features include android app mobile control, special soft grip feature for kids, etc. This could make testing safer & quicker,”

Further upgrades

Avinash Rao, the founder of ispAgro is also planning to upgrade the model by including an artificial intelligence-based operator to increase efficiency.

The company intends to deploy the arm at primary healthcare centres to maximise testing needed to detect the spread of coronavirus.

Moreover, the robotic arm will be further enhanced with the addition of a camera and infrared integration for better and faster sampling. The arm may also be updated with an automatic sanitation unit to ensure complete safety of the person whose sample is being collected.

Emphasising on the importance of innovation, Debashis Chatterjee, director of IIM Kozhikode said: "The unprecedented crisis that the world finds itself in can only be countered by rapid innovations backed by an indomitable spirit,” He further added, “Adapting to the emergent situation is also a key trait that will hold a start-up in good stead not only for its commercial success but also for its role in greater societal good.”

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