According to information from the World Health Organization, one of the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic is a stout chain of transmission, especially the rate of infection of health professionals while treating Covid-19 patients. This, experts argue, has seen countries, including Rwanda, adopt the science of robotic systems as part of the ways to offer effective treatment at the same time strengthening the fight against the pandemic. Robotic systems have not been common in Rwanda in the past, until recently when the country launched UAV drones in the health care sector. However, as epidemics escalate, reports indicate that the potential roles of robotics are becoming increasingly clear. A unique opportunity to jump-start the development of medical robot technologies Since the Covid-19 outbreak last year, robots have been deployed for disinfection, delivering medications and food, measuring vital signs, and assisting border controls, globally. Last week, the government of Rwanda received three THOR UVC robots, which are expected to help in cleaning and disinfecting treatment centres, hospitals and places of mass gathering. It was the second time the country deployed robots to minimize contact between frontline workers and persons infected with the virus and to help enforce safety guidelines at strategic points. In May last year, the government launched five high-tech robots that can perform a number of tasks related to Covid-19 management, including mass temperature screening, delivering food and medication to patients, capturing data, detecting people who are not wearing masks among others. Critical resources Ordinarily, cleaners sterilized surfaces and floors manually, but that, according to information from Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), isn’t an optimal approach during a pandemic. First, spraying and wiping is usually done by hand or by a mop, and hospitals want to minimize human exposure as much as possible. In an earlier interview, Dr. Sabin Nsanzimana told The New Times that at least 400 people were on duty just for cleaning surfaces, and cleaning different places where the virus could have been present. According to Dr. Nsanzimana, sterilizing hospital areas quickly, efficiently, and reliably has always been a challenge, citing that during the coronavirus pandemic it become a lifer or death matter. Consequently, James Ndekezi, a tech enthusiast, robots have long helped humans by doing tasks that are too dangerous, too difficult and too dull, “yet precisely.” Over the past decade, he added, engineers have also built smarter robots that can orient in place, avoid obstacles, follow voice commands and make decisions. Ndekezi, co-founder of Kwbot, a local start-up keen on tapping into robotics, shared examples, noting that robots have previously been used from earthquakes and forest fires to nuclear accidents and chemical spills, disaster recovery robots have helped clean up rubble, looked for survivors buried underneath fallen buildings, and flown over radioactive areas surveying the damage. “They work around the clock without getting tired or losing their precision.” Call for extensive research According to a recent editorial, in the journal Science Robotics, the development of robotic systems during the Covid-19 pandemic serves as a call to arms for more research. “Covid-19 could be a catalyst for developing robotic systems that can be rapidly deployed with remote access by experts and essential service providers without the need of traveling to front lines,” the article read in part.