A Low-cost Intrinsically Safe Mechanism For Physical Distancing Between Clinicians And Patients

During the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the unprecedented workload and cross-infection hazard, the healthcare workers’ lives are under a significant threat. However, minimizing the duration and frequency of close clinician-to-patient contacts using simple technologies that enable physical distancing could reduce the risk of spreading the disease. In this context, this paper presents the conceptual design and preliminary assessment of a low-cost and intrinsically safe remote service delivery platform that can assist clinicians in doing various tasks at a safe distance from patients. This mechanism is capable of manipulating objects in three-dimensional Cartesian space and can be adapted to handling a wide variety of medical devices. Moreover, its passive weight-compensating design provides the mechanism with high maneuverability, enhanced dynamic manipulability, and better force feedback quality. The advantages and effectiveness of the proposed mechanism are demonstrated through experiments. In the experiment, an ultrasound probe is mounted at the end effector of the device to perform an imaging task from a safe distance. Due to the existence of force feedback, the user could remotely manipulate the ultrasound probe for having a successful vertical and pivot scanning to get high-quality images with a low physical and mental demand.