Robotics and automation against COVID-19

KUKA Group

Robotics, assembly technology and automation experts are currently converting industrial production lines in record time and are developing new ideas for the fight against the corona pandemic.

The idealism and creativity of the companies is exceptional. Find the latest examples for the use of robotics and automation against Corona here.


Automation engineers ramp up production of protective masks

Machine manufacturer PIA Automation, based in Amberg, Germany, normally manufactures fully automated production systems for the automotive and consumer goods industries, but also counts medical technology companies among its customers. Within a few weeks after the outbreak of the crisis, PIA initially revamped two existing production lines at its site in China for fully automated production of up to 140,000 protective masks  per day. With the know-how gained from this pilot project, the company is now working on numerous follow-up orders and has also started manufacturing new assembly lines in Germany for the production of face masks. The first delivery is scheduled for the beginning of May. This will enable more than 1 million respiratory masks to be produced per day.

from left to right: Lothar Mehren, Head of Medical Division, Armin Schalk and André Vales, Managing Director of PIA Automation Amberg GmbH


The project is not a one-off: Mechanical engineering company Ruhlamat from Marksuhl in Thuringia, has also put its foot down and rapidly developed a production line for disposable surgical masks. The filter material for respiratory protection can be processed flexibly depending on the required safety levels.


The machine builders at Ruhlamat and PIA Automation thus use their many years of experience in high-speed assembly automation to ramp up the required production of respirators to the required volume.


Drive-Thru for Corona mass testing

Unlike medical staff, robots are immune to the virus. Therefore, Bavarian automation provider Boka Automatisierung came up with the idea of a fully automated system reminiscent of the customer experience in a drive-through restaurant which can be used by any driver for a corona test. Using a tablet, the driver identifies through the side window of the car and a robot arm hands over the test tube. A video tutorial guides the sample collection.. The test tube is then automatically returned.  Each test participant is then informed by phone of the result of a possible coronavirus infection.



Robot sorts 3,000 blood samples per day

The sharp increase in COVID-19 testing procedures requires numerous blood tests to be performed. This process -  traditionally performed manually by laboratory technicians in clinics - is very time-consuming and monotonous: an ideal process to be automated.

The Aalborg University Hospital in Denmark already has a laboratory that benefited from automation even before the corona crisis. Every day, up to 3,000 blood samples are carefully sorted by two KUKA robots in the largest hospital in the North Jutland region. The employees are relieved of an enormous amount of work and can concentrate on more sophisticated activities instead of performing vast amounts of routine tasks.


In times of Social Distancing: Reha-Robot supports physiotherapists

The company Life Science Robotics (LSR) has developed ROBERT®, a robot for mobilising patients. Especially in times of social distancing, the robot-based medical device ROBERT® can support physiotherapists in their work.


Robot James helps with visitor bans in care homes

RobShare, a company of the Hahn Group in Rheinböllen, Germany, supports residents of nursing homes keep contact with family members during the Coronavirus-induced visiting ban. James is the name of the communication robot visiting people in the quarantined rooms and connecting family members simply via video conference. RobShare offers rental of the robots free of charge. "We don't earn a cent from this campaign, we just have to make sure that our basic costs are largely covered", says Konstantin Dick from the Hahn Group. "That is why we have already started the search for sponsors, so that the campaign can be offered completely free of charge for the care homes".


Robot destroys hospital bugs

Blue Ocean Robotics' collaborative "UVD robot" autonomously travels through hospitals, emitting concentrated UV-C light to eliminate bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. This enables hospitals to guarantee a 99.99 % disinfection rate - reducing the risk of patients, staff and relatives being infected with dangerous infections.


Automated laboratory tests with robots

The current situation shows: The health care sector quickly reaches its limits when laboratory capacity is lacking or when existing test installations cannot be converted flexibly enough for test variants or new, modified test procedures. In this situation, laboratory robots offer a valuable alternative to manual test execution.