Mitra the robot helps COVID patients in India speak to loved ones
A hospital in India has deployed a customer-service robot to patrol its wards, connecting coronavirus patients to friends and relatives.
Mitra, meaning “friend” in Hindi, is best known for interacting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an event in 2017.
Its piercing 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.
Mitra is mainly used by patients who are not able to communicate using their phones.
The robot, developed by Bengaluru-based start-up Invento Robotics, cost the hospital 1 million rupees ($13,600), according to Yatharth Tyagi, director of the company that runs the hospital.
Mitra is also being used for remote consultations with specialists to reduce their risk of becoming infected, he added.
“Normally it is very difficult for a psychologist or a dietician to see a COVID patient,” Tyagi said, adding the robot is “very useful”.
India’s novel coronavirus cases surged past 5 million on Wednesday, only the second country in the world to cross the grim milestone after the United States.