UST engineer creates robot to assist COVID-19 medical frontliners

Josiah Antonio, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 14 2020 12:23 PM | Updated as of Apr 14 2020 12:48 PM

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MANILA -- To reduce the risk of contacting the novel coronavirus, a Filipino engineer has created a service assistant robot to help medical frontliners attend to their patients during the pandemic.

University of Santo Tomas (UST) assistant professor and engineer Anthony James Bautista invented the robot which is now operating at the university's hospital.

The robot is a telepresence robot that delivers medicine and allows health workers to communicate with patients remotely. It can easily be reproduced for other hospitals to use, Bautista said in a Facebook post.


"[The hospital is] going to use the robots to communicate with the patients remotely," he told ANC.

Starting point

Bautista said he drew inspiration to build this robot after his conversation with a doctor.

Dr. Rodrigo Calalang Santos of Pasig Doctors Medical Center talked with the engineer and said that there is a need for doctors to communicate and deliver medicine to the patients remotely in order to reduce contact with them. 

Having a background in robotics, Santos asked Bautista to develop a robot which can help the medical frontliners. 

The challenge was there were no components available due to the enhanced community quarantine.
But with readily available tools in his laboratory, Bautista worked hard for five days and invented the machine.

Meet The LISA Robot

Named the LISA Robot for Logistic Indoor Service Assistant Robot, the device works on a first level automation, or a remote control used by the medical frontliners.

The telepresence robot has a tablet with applications that can be used for communication and a box that holds the medicine needed by the patient.

The tablet is directly used by patients so they covered it with plastic and is disinfect afterwards.

With the robot, doctors no longer have to directly contact patients for more than 5 meters and could reduce use of personal protective equipment, Bautista noted.

The Department of Science and Technology supported the project and has requested for 4 units for that will be used by four hospitals in the future.

Further modifications for future use

Bautista said further modifications can improve the robot's performance and he has talked to suppliers to provide all the components he needed.

For instance, at the base should be a four-wheeled drive so that the robot can navigate continuously even with slippery and uneven floors. 

Two levels of advanced automation will also be installed once everything is stabilized in the future, according to the engineer.

"Like for example 'yong WiFi, kaya nang i-operate ng doctor kahit nasa bahay siya," Bautista said.

"And 'yong third level ng automation na gagawin namin is fully autonomous, wherein 'yong robot na mismo 'yong mag-iidentify kung saan siya pupunta as commanded by the doctors," he added.

Bautista is looking forward to start working on the next 4 robots on April 20. He hopes to finish it before May.

"We are thinking of this to be a long-term project not only in this situation but also in the future. Magagamit talaga ng mga hospitals," he said.