A hospital in India has developed a customer-service robot to patrol its wards, connecting COVID-19 patients to friends and relatives. Mitra, which means “friend” in Hindi, is best known for interacting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an event in 2017.
Its eyes are equipped with facial recognition technology to help it recall people it has previously interacted with. A tablet attached to Mitra’s chest allows patients to see loved ones, as well as medical staff unable to access the wards. “It takes a lot of time to recover, and during this time, when patients need their families the most, they are unable to visit,” said a doctor at the Yatharth Super Speciality Hospital in Noida Extension. Mitra is mainly used by patients who are not able to communicate using their phones.
“We mainly discuss my health, I came here on Friday and now I have started feeling better. I am feeling very happy now”, a patient said. The robot, developed by Bengaluru-based start-up Invento Robotics, cost the hospital Rs 10 lakh. Mitra is also being used for remote consultations with specialists to reduce their risk of becoming infected. “Normally it is very difficult for a psychologist or a dietician to see a COVID patient,” the robot is “very useful”.