Tripura scientist’s ‘Warbot’ helps in Covid care

The first of its kind in northeast India, a robot developed by a scientist from Tripura University has been deployed in a government Covid care centre to deal with the patients.

Scientist Harjeet Nath has made the robot from locally available material, including scrap. He has named it as ‘WARBOT’ to fight the war against the COVID-19 pandemic. Nath’s aim was to assist the frontline health workers, including doctors, in taking care of the coronavirus patients from a distant place. Nath donated the robot to the Tripura Medical College and Dr. B. R.Ambedkar Memorial Teaching Hospital, a semi-government medical college.

The medical college has been using the robot for the past four days at the 250-bed Covid care centre in Hapania, on the outskirts of the capital city Agartala. Tripura Medical College Professor and in-charge of the Hapania Covid care centre Shib Sekhar Datta said the robot was useful to some extent.

While talking to IANS, other doctors and nurses of the Covid care centre said that so far the robot has been very useful in dealing with the patients. “Such a robot will reduce the exposure of the virus to the frontline health workers and facilitate the COVID-19 fight with lesser risk,” they said.

The remote-controlled robot can carry 10-15 kg of material, has an operational range of 15-20 metres, and can deliver food, medicines and other essential items to the COVID-19 patients.

Nath said that he spent Rs 25,000 and took a week’s time to make the robot.

“Due to the ongoing COVID-19 induced situation, I could not collect the latest and modern devices and tools from outside Tripura, hence I had to depend upon the local and scrap materials. I used the vital receiver of the robot from an old toy of a son of my relative,” he told IANS.

Nath, who received the young scientist award in 2018, said that the robot can be of enormous help to the doctors, nurses and other health workers to deal with the patients of the highly contagious nCoV.

An assistant professor of the Chemical and Polymer Engineering Department of Tripura University, the 32-year-old scientist said that the robot, regulated by a transmitter and a receiver, can work for around 90 minutes after the lead acid rechargeable battery (135 watts) is given a five hour charge.

In the robot, Nath has installed a two-way communication device of a Wi-Fi controlled camera with inbuilt microphone and speaker to help both the doctors or nurses and patients to communicate directly with each other maintaining a safe distance.

A resident of southern Assam, Nath had earlier developed the first of its kind portable water purifier in the country, which can benefit people during calamities like floods and also reduce pollution.

“In India and abroad, many doctors, nurses and health workers were already infected by the dreaded virus. The robot would reduce the risk for the frontline warriors to a large extent,” he said.

“Parliamentarian Pratima Bhowmik, veteran doctor Ashok Sinha, medical college superintendent Arnab Datta and many other doctors and experts have appreciated my invention and said that the WARBOT would be very useful to deal with people infected by the contagious disease,” Nath said.

Nath, who was a research scholar at the IIT-Guwahati, said he can add many more skills, including the thermal screening of suspected patients, sanitising the hospital floors to the robot to make the machine do more health related jobs.