The Institute of Field Robotics (FIBO) at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) is renowned for its robotics-related education courses. In line with accelerating Thailand’s Industry 4.0 vision, the Institute’s mission is to impart knowledge of robotics and automation to further robot technology development in the country.
As the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic became clear, FIBO further enhanced its existing service robot to support healthcare workers. The robots are designed to help front-line healthcare professionals ward off the risk of infection through tele-monitoring and communication between medical personnel and patients.
The FACO, short for FIBO against COVID-19, robotic series consists of four prototype robots. The first prototype, CARVER, an automatic guided vehicle, is designed to deliver food, drugs and medical supplies to COVID-19 patients in hospitals. In addition, the robot is equipped with an air purifier and can even sanitize the floor.
The second prototype, SOFA, can directly support healthcare workers in caring for COVID-19 patients. Enhancements include the ability to take patients’ temperature through a thermal camera, a high-definition video camera to check the eyes and tongues of patients, and communication systems that enable medical personnel to speak with patients through the robot.
The third and fourth robots serve specialized functions in the area of medicine and food delivery.
“These FACO robots can support doctors and nurses in crisis situations. Our healthcare workers face the most risk and are susceptible to contracting the disease themselves. If doctors and nurses become infected, the population as a whole is at risk of infection as well. Remote control of the robots and monitoring of patients can reduce the risk of contracting diseases,” says Mr. Wuttichai Visarnkuna, Acting Deputy Director for Industry, Institute of Field Robotics (FIBO) at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT).
During the testing period of the robots, medical professionals found SOFA to be extremely helpful and valuable. The high-quality camera was clear and helped in diagnosis. Doctors could also speak with patients through video conferencing, which helped to assuage patients’ worries. In addition, patients found the robots “cute,” which helped to reassure them in these troubled times.
How SOLIDWORKS supported the design of the FACO robots
During this time of crisis, FIBO needed to quickly adapt its robot designs to support the nation and healthcare workers in their time of need. “One of the biggest benefits of SOLIDWORKS is the ability to visualize the model quickly. This reduces the development time by more than 50 percent. In addition, computer-aided engineering also enables us to analyze the design in the virtual world and correct any flaws ahead of building the prototype. This helps us to move quickly, reduce waste and avoid reworking,” says Visarnkuna.
Benefits of using SOLIDWORKS during the design stage include:
- Easily create digital designs for the robotic system, specific to the needs and requirements of healthcare professionals by enabling engineers to better design and simulate the different parts of the robot responsible for the various functions.
- Estimate the perfect force, weight needed to lift, holding strength and stress for the robot’s “hand” in each function for the possible solutions
- Collate data to create ‘single source of truth’ within the 3D design files
- Helps to minimize manufacturing mistakes and defects, thereby shortening design to manufacture to market time.
In these unprecedented times, we see how organizations can come together to help support each other. Metro Systems’ recommendation of SOLIDWORKS applications as the platform best suited for FIBO has helped the Institute develop cutting-edge solutions that help society.
This article was written together with SOLIDWORKS value-added-reseller in Thailand, Metro Systems Thailand.