Adorable self-driving robots are delivering medical supplies to healthcare workers in Wuhan

PHOTO: China Daily

It’s especially important to minimise contact with one another during the coronavirus outbreak — human-to-human contact is how a virus spreads, after all. 

But you know what doesn’t get infected? Frickin’ robots, that’s what. 

Amidst a deadly viral outbreak that has killed over 1,350, the Chinese medical and tech community have been flung into a situation that requires automatons that can carry out various services without endangering any more lives. 

Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com has been up to the task of deploying autonomous vehicles to deliver medical aid in a crucial area: Wuhan, the very epicentre of the outbreak. 

PHOTO: JD

According to a company statement from Feb 6, a robot successfully made a trip from JD’s Renhe delivery station and transported the goods 600 metres away to healthcare workers at Wuhan Ninth Hospital, one of the city’s designated hospitals for treating infected patients. 

Kong Qi, director of JD Logistics' autopilot research and development department, mentioned that each robot, loaded with around 30 parcels, is capable of monitoring the surrounding environment through sensors that help it avoid roadblocks and pedestrians. The robots use facial recognition when handing over the packages.

The company has also transferred robots from other cities to Wuhan to cover more areas, including quarantined neighbourhoods, to make sure unmanned delivery will become the norm in the virus-stricken city, Kong added. 

To aid the efforts to combat the outbreak, JD Logistics will also open up its autonomous driving solutions to allow more delivery manufacturers to benefit from the technology. Local media has reported that robots are being used in hospitals in other affected places like Guangzhou, Jiangxi, Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.

The outbreak so far has been an intense test of China’s technology-heavy solutions, including robots, apps and drones. 

For the latest updates on the coronavirus virus, visit here.

ilyas@asiaone.com