A cornerstone of the world’s response to Covid-19 has been mass testing of as many people as possible for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The very act of taking a nasal swab can put a clinician performing it, or one nearby instructing the patient on how to do it, at risk. Now, a new robot has been unveiled by Brain Navi, a Taiwanese firm, that performs nasal swabs all on its own. It may make it possible to expand testing for the virus that causes Covid-19, while preventing its possible spread at the testing site.
The Nasal Swab Robot was unveiled at the Bio Asia Taiwan 2020 exhibition where Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s president, got to see it demonstrated. The device uses facial recognition techniques to locate the nostrils and deliver the swab inside. Everything that occurs after the patient is situated in a head-holder is essentially automatic, with the sample ending up in a closed container safe for handling.
This new device is based on some of the capabilities of Brain Navi’s NaoTrac neurosurgical navigation robot, which has already been used in over a dozen clinical cases at Taiwan’s Hualien Tzu-Chi Medical Center. We recently covered a similar system from Lifeline Robotics, a spinoff of the University of Southern Denmark.
The Brain Navi Nasal Swab Robot uses some fundamental functions of NaoTrac, the innovative “Neurosurgical navigation robot,” developed by Brain Navi, which successfully performed in 15 human trial cases at the Hualien Tzu-Chi Medical Center in Taiwan.
The Nasal Swab Robot is not yet approved anywhere for actual use, but the company has the go-ahead for a clinical trial in Taiwan and is working on an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the device in the United States.
Check out a demonstration of the Nasal Swab Robot doing a proper deep swab: