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This is Story in the Story.
China's market scale for the service industry and medical robots hit $2.2 billion in 2019, surging almost 35 percent year-on-year and accounting for over 20 percent of the global market.
A variety of medical robots are used in China for rehabilitation, surgery, and non-therapeutic services, among others.
The proportion of rehabilitation robots was 42 percent in 2018, followed by auxiliary robots at 17 percent and surgical robots at 16 percent.
Intelligent robots have made a collective appearance amid the coronavirus epidemic with delivery, medical, and disinfection purposes, contributing to prevention and control efforts.
Experts say that though intelligent robot technology is still in its initial stage, COVID-19 has given the robot industry an unexpected boost.
Today’s Story in the Story looks at how China's medical robot sector is developing faster than expected and primarily due to the coronavirus outbreak.
A food delivery robot developed by Segway-Ninebot is sterilized in Zhongguancun Dongsheng Science and Technology Park in Beijing. (Photo: Courtesy of Segway-Ninebot)
A food delivery robot with disinfection functions was installed in Zhongguancun Dongsheng Science and Technology Park in Beijing to help deliver food as production gradually resumes.
Customers can receive food without direct contact with the robots, according to the robot's developer Segway-Ninebot, a Beijing-based unicorn focusing on smart mobility.
The robot, Segway DeliveryBot S2, is capable of delivering 300 orders per day at eight minutes per delivery. Multiple robots can work together on tasks dynamically optimized and assigned using cloud control to resolve resource conflicts and improve delivery efficiency, according to the company.
Hunan-based Xingshen Tech has developed a tailored, unmanned delivery cart for the China Post Group, which has been set up in multiple cities to provide package delivery services, including Hubei's Xiantao.
One delivery cart can deliver nearly 100 packages per day, according to Xingshen Tech.
Alongside China's epidemic prevention efforts and its gradually resuming production, the implementation of high-tech factors in the logistics industry will be accelerated, He Hui, director of the China Logistics Information Center, said.
In addition to delivery services, robots have also been used directly in the fight against the spread of the virus.
Shanghai-based Yogo Robot has rolled out a disinfection robot which can disinfect an area of 100 square meters in three minutes, and one robot can cover 30 floors in a building.
In outbreak epicenter Wuhan, a series of multitasking robots developed by Shenzhen-based Candela Tech were installed in the two newly built hospitals, Huoshenshan and Leishenshan Hospitals, to deliver medical materials and disinfectant.
One disinfection robot can cover the work of four professionals.
When it comes to application scenarios, robots have epidemic prevention advantages as they can efficiently reduce direct contact among people, said Ma Jihua, a senior tech industry expert.
The need for contactless delivery and other services has been highlighted during this period, Ma said.
A Cheetah Mobile robot is used in a hospital in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province. (Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn)
China's robot industry market was valued at an estimated $8.68 billion in 2019, with an average annual growth of 20.9 percent from 2014-19, according to a report from the Xinhua News Agency.
With the rapid development of the 5G network and artificial intelligence (AI) technology in China, the intelligent robot industry has promising prospects, experts noted.
The outbreak has offered a valuable scenario for the realistic application of such high-tech robots, including not only delivery robots but also thermometer robots, medical robots, and others, which will definitely be a driving force for the industry, Ma said.
China's Shandong University and Singapore's Nanyang Technological University jointly designed two types of robot specifically for epidemic prevention - one intelligent consultation and delivery robot and one epidemic inspection robot. These robots have been sent to hospitals in Huanggang, another city in Central China's Hubei Province hard hit by the virus.
The team at Shandong University is striving to develop a robot that could replace medical personnel in carrying out close clinical virus sampling and auxiliary examinations, per the statement.
In January, Cheetah Mobile sent two intelligent service robots to Peking University Shougang Hospital. One robot can provide unmanned guidance and automatically respond to inquiries on fevers and give patients preliminary and remote diagnosis and appropriate treatment; the other robot can deliver laboratory test reports and drugs in accordance with the needs of the hospital.
Fu Sheng, chairman of Cheetah Mobile, said these robots are powered by artificial intelligence, and they are multifunctional.
"They can offer medical advice, deliver drugs, guide routes, or measure patients' temperatures, which can help boost efficiency and reduce cross-infection among medical workers," Fu said.
(Produced by Nancy Yan Xu, Lance Crayon, Brian Lowe and Da Hang. Music by bensound.com. Text from China Daily and Global Times.)