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“Makcik Kiah” ready to serve COVID-19 patients, no PPE required

Medical frontliners that handle COVID-19 cases face a higher risk of getting infected. While they can use personal protective equipment (PPE), it should be used sparingly as there’s currently a global shortage. To help reduce exposure, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) in collaboration with Hospital Canselor Tuanku Muhriz UKM (HCTM) and DF Automation & Robotics have developed a robot called MCK19 or “Makcik Kiah”.

According to UTM, the MCK19 is the first Malaysian-made delivery robot that’s designed to assist the delivery of healthcare to patients with COVID-19.

The autonomous delivery robot is based on DF’s commercial Zalpha robot. It can accommodate weight up to 300kg on its shelves and it can used to help doctors and nurses to deliver food and medicine to a patient’s room. MCK19 can be summoned via a laptop or a phone, and it navigates around via a magnetic guided track or with its “surrounding feature” as demonstrated in the video below.

In front of MCK19 is an LCD screen which shows an animated face. According to UTM, the screen can be used for teleconferencing between doctors and patients. This enables doctors to check on patients remotely. Like a robot vacuum, it can also return to base to charge itself.

The MCK19 prototype took less than two weeks to develop and it was made possible with the support from several parties including MOSTI, MITI, MTDC, HCTM, UTM, DF and Ministry of Health. The robot not only helps hospitals to achieve social distancing requirements but also reduce the usage of PPE.

At the moment, MCK19 is being deployed at the Hospital Canselor Tuanku Muhriz (HCTM). In the initial phase, the robot will be utilised to distribute meals for quarantine patients in category 1 and 2. It was also reported that clinical trials on the robot’s capabilities will also be conducted soon.

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Alexander Wong