For the past eight months, Boston Dynamics has been trying to find ways in which their friendly yellow quadruped, Spot, can provide some kind of useful response to COVID-19. The company has been working with researchers from MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Massachusetts to use Spot as a telepresence-based extension for healthcare workers in suitable contexts, with the goal of minimizing exposure and preserving supplies of PPE. For triaging sick patients, it’s necessary to collect a variety of vital data, including body temperature, respiration rate, pulse rate, and oxygen saturation. Boston Dynamics has helped to develop “a set of contactless monitoring systems for measuring vital signs and a tablet computer to enable face-to-face medical interviewing,” all of which fits neatly on Spot’s back. This system was recently tested in a medical tent for COVID-19 triage, which appeared to be a well constrained and very flat environment that left us Continue reading Why Boston Dynamics Is Putting Legged Robots in Hospitals
Illustration: Marysia Machulska Within moments of meeting each other at a conference last year, Nathan Collins and Yann Gaston-Mathé began devising a plan to work together. Gaston-Mathé runs a startup that applies automated software to the design of new drug candidates. Collins leads a team that uses an automated chemistry platform to synthesize new drug candidates. “There was an obvious synergy between their technology and ours,” recalls Gaston-Mathé, CEO and cofounder of Paris-based Iktos. In late 2019, the pair launched a project to create a brand-new antiviral drug that would block a specific protein exploited by influenza viruses. Then the COVID-19 pandemic erupted across the world stage, and Gaston-Mathé and Collins learned that the viral culprit, SARS-CoV-2, relied on a protein that was 97 percent similar to their influenza protein. The partners pivoted. Their companies are just two of hundreds of biotech firms eager to overhaul the drug-discovery process, often Continue reading Can AI and Automation Deliver a COVID-19 Antiviral While It Still Matters?