A robot with the capacity to collect samples that allow coronavirus detection test Without the health workers having to expose themselves directly and, in this way, they can focus their efforts on the vaccination campaign that is about to start. This is the latest advance in the fight against pandemic who has presented the Miguel Hernández University (UMH) of Elche. At the head of the project is the researcher Nicolás García Aracil, who yesterday showed in a ceremony held on the Elche campus the characteristics of the robotic system to the Minister of Innovation and Universities, Carolina Pascual, and the rector, Juanjo Ruiz placeholder image. The García Aracil team that has patented the robot has achieved great achievements in record time, since the project has been developed in just five months.
The UMH professor presented yesterday the advances in the development of a robotic arm that is capable of taking samples from people to perform a test PCR to identify the coronavirus infection. This arm has the capacity to collect samples from the nose or the back of the throat without requiring the direct intervention of health personnel, since it relies on recognition cameras and sensors. The biological material collected by the robot is stored in a secure container that is part of the system itself before it is sent to the relevant laboratory where subsequent analysis is carried out.
García Aracil explained yesterday on campus that, although during the sampling of the respiratory tract the health workers have to take precautions, such as wearing a gown, FFP2 masks, gloves or eye protection, there is a high risk of transmission of the virus to personnel who have to carry out these tasks, both indoors and outdoors. Faced with this problem, the UMH researchers, who have received funding from the Generalitat Valenciana, have developed the robotic sample extraction system that allows the substitution of professionals.
Among the different advantages that this robot developed in Elche can provide, one of the most important is that it will allow health workers to focus primarily on the process of vaccinating the population, one of the most important challenges that the pandemic currently poses and that it is a global challenge. García Aracil, professor of the Automation and Systems Engineering Area and researcher at the UMH Institute of Bioengineering, emphasized this question yesterday.
Both the councilor and the rector showed their support for the project. “The robot allows automated sample collection with just 7 to 8 minutes between patient and patient and has an automatic disinfection system. It can be very useful in spaces where there is a large influx of people, such as airports ”, Pascual valued.
In a similar vein, rector Ruiz pointed out: «Our researchers have achieved very good results in a short time. This is important because the global competition is great and it is convenient to be the first ”.
Live demonstration on the Elche campus
Yesterday, the UMH offered a live demonstration of the method of action of the robotic system that the team led by researcher Nicolás García Aracil has developed. During the demonstration, a fully automated PCR sampling was carried out. This is one of the four innovation and research projects for the fight against covid-19 of the University of Elche that have been selected by the Generalitat.
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