JOHOR BAHRU , 7 Apr. — Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Hospital Canselor Tuanku Muhriz UKM (HCTM) and DF Automation & Robotics Sdn Bhd (DF) have joint together in a significant collaboration to develop a Hospital Delivery Robot System.
The robot, named MCK19 or Makcik Kiah 19, is the First Malaysian Made Delivery Robot for hospitals to assist healthcare frontliners in assisting the delivery of healthcare to patients with COVID-19.
The project embarked during the beginning of the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced.
MCK19 uses Zalpha, a DF’s commercial robot that can accommodate weight up to 300kg in its shelves and able to navigate autonomously to assist doctors or nurses in delivering food or medicine to a patient’s room.
The usage of these robots especially MCK19 will reduce the exposure of healthcare professionals and frontliners to patients under investigations (PUI) that may be highly contagious and need to be in isolation.
Hence, it would also decrease in the need for PPEs as hospitals are facing a global shortage.
This prototype had been modified and integrated with compartments’ storage which can be customised according to need.
There is a LCD screen on the robot to show an animated face to make the robot more human friendly, and soon, it can be used for teleconference between doctors from his room/office with patients, without having the doctor to go to the their room.
Figure: Left picture: Compartment’s shelves that can be customised. Right Top picture: LCD screen shows animated friendly face. Bottom Right Picture: Graphical User Interface.
This robot is also an IoT robot where it can be accessed by any PC, tablets or phones, allowing users to interact with the robot even if the users are not at the hospital’s premise.
In addition, there is also a security feature in place to allow access by authorised admin only.
The working prototype that took less than two weeks to develop is made possible with the strong support from all parties especially from MOSTI, MITI, MTDC, HCTM, UTM, DF, Ministry of Health, hospitals and industries.
This project is led by co-founder of DF, Assoc. Prof. Dr Yeong Che Fai from School of Electrical Engineering, UTM.
According to him, as DF has provided robotic solutions to industry since 2012, we leverage the robots and experiences we have to achieve the social distance requirement in hospitals between humans during this critical time.
“Robots can help with many tasks to reduce human presence such as for delivering, disinfection, cleaning, monitoring, service and many more.
It is unfortunate that COVID-19 happened and strikes us without any warning. One of the solutions to deal with COVID-19 is to maintain social distance between humans.
MCK19 will be our first pilot trial, if this robot works well, we will proceed to other applications.” he added.
Meanwhile Director of Hospital Canselor Tuanku (HCTM), Ukm, Prof. Dato’ Dr Hanafiah Harunarashid, expressed gratitude on the collaborations.
“On behalf of HCTM (UKM), I am very pleased to collaborate with MOSTI and the team from UTM and DF to develop a hospital delivery robot hospital, the first in Malaysia.
This would be inaugural which is especially useful to aid our overwhelmed healthcare system during this pandemic and outbreak.
I foresee robotics and automation will play an important part in hospitals in near future to enhance the delivery of health care, ” he added.
UTM Vice-Chancellor, Prof Datuk Ir Dr Wahid bin Omar said the invention of this robot is another UTM’s helping hand in combating the virus, along with university’s initiatives of to prosper lives.
“As a university that is blessed with multiple expertise, we believe it is our responsibility to help the government especially the frontliners who are struggling to serve the people in this trying times for us all.
Thus through this collaboration we hope that together, we can break the the Covid-19 chain soon,” he added.
MCK19 is expected to be tested at HCTM at the end of this week. If the robot is found useful, DF will commit to mass produce the robot to supply to hospitals in Malaysia or any organisations who need it.
For the long term, the team is planning to produce a more human friendly look and design as in the figure below.