Here Are Some Robots We Could Use To Fight Ebola in Africa

Keeping travel lanes to Ebola-hit West Africa open is essential to fighting the outbreak, argues Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, orCDC. The U.S. military has already mobilized more than 3,500 troops to the region, and an international assortment of healthcare workers also heads to Africa everyday, where there is a massive doctor shortage.

But amid calls to suspend travel to and from the region, the question is, how does the United States allow health workers to help West Africa while minimizing their risk? One answer that the White House may be exploring is robots.

On Nov. 7, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy along with researchers from the Texas A & M University’s Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue, CRASAR, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and others will convene a workshop to explore ways to keep health workers in Africa safe through robotics.

But before we can send drones to battle Ebola, we first have to invent the right robots for the job. As Evan Ackerman makes clear in this post for IEEE Spectrum, “the problem that we’re having now with Ebola is the same as the problem that we had with Fukushima: there simply aren’t any robots that are prepared and ready, right now, to tackle an immediate crisis, even though robots would be immensely valuable in this situation.”

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t robots that could be used for individual tasks. Robin Murphy, the director of CRASARspells out some of the jobs robots in the Ebola zone might be assigned. These nine points provide a fair indication of what we might soon be asking robots to do in West Africa. Also included, some of the systems that are fulfilling similar roles today, but not necessarily in places like Liberia.

1. “Mortuary robots to respectfully transport the deceased, as [Ebola] is most virulent at the time of death and immediately following death.”

Unsafe methods for handling the dead are directly linked to the rapid spread of Ebola particularly in Liberia. Believe it or not, there already exists a robot designed for emergency mortuary work called the Robokiyu Rescue Robot, which was built for the Tokyo Fire Department in 2008. The Robokiyu had a pair of giant claws to pull the injured or the dead onto a slide to move them away. In the video below, Robokiyu’s successor can be seen safely—if ghoulishly—scooping mannequins into its metal maw.

2. “Reducing the number of health professionals within the biosafety labs and field hospitals (e.g., automated materials handling.)”

Epson markets several lab assistant robots. A company called Aethon sells a robot called TUG. Aethon is particularly boastful of TUG’s “real-time medication delivery tracking software system that keeps medications from falling into the ‘black hole.’” Swiss Logic’s Robbie has been well tested in Florida Hospital Orlando, but, to better function, the exact layout has to be programed into the robot’s software beforehand, which may be difficult in a clinic or triage setting in Liberia.

Much more to read and view found at Defense One.


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Consequences for the notorious Blackwater shootings in Baghdad.

It took seven years, but today a jury in Washington, DC convicted four former Blackwater security guards who mowed down 14 unarmed Iraqis with machine guns and grenades in a Baghdad traffic circle. Only one of the soldiers—Nicholas Slatten—was convicted of murder. The other three were convicted of voluntary manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and gun charges.


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Around the Apocalyptic Web: The sharing economy and getting paid for your work

I find the whole idea of a “sharing economy” where people barter and exchange and free up excess capacity in their own lives and situations to make others’ lives a little easier and cheaper an interesting notion. And worthwhile. After all broadly speaking the open access and open source movements do partake of this same spirit. Libraries too, in that we pool the resources of a community to acquire stuff for the benefit of all the members, so that everyone can share the wealth.

But is there a dark side to sharing?

With the advent of companies like AirBnB and it’s ilk not to mention the whole idea of the “reputation economy” sucking up the “gift economy” for it’s own devices, well, let’s just say I’m a bit more skeptical of the big money players than the little gals and guys.

So this Around the Web explores a long set of readings about more the new, more corporatized side of sharing, some pro, most con. After all, even the open access movement has it’s share of big publishers and small startups diving in.

In no particular order:

Add your own favourite example of rich people asking not-so-rich-people to kick in to their profits in the comments.

Found HERE.


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Google wants to “fix” email—by turning it into Google Now

Should the Poor Be Allowed to Vote?


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