Beijing Winter Olympics: Robots help protect participants against COVID-19
By Cui Hui'ao

Beijing will host the Winter Olympics next year under unusual circumstances. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizers to come up with new ways to protect people from the virus. And robots are playing a big role.

At Wukesong Ice Sports Center, a robot is used for disinfection. By spraying atomized mist on the ground, it can sterilize an area of 36 square meters within just a minute.

It's about 1.4 meters tall, and the sensor inside can help it navigate around obstacles. It can store up to 16 liters of disinfectant, and its battery can last for four to five hours.

For smaller areas, an ultraviolet robot is used for disinfection, which is said to be more effective.

And another robot can undertake the work of three to four human volunteers. It can walk up to people who are not wearing masks and tell them to wear one and has a contactless hand disinfection device on its head.

Wukesong Ice Sports Center will host the ice-hockey competition next February. Organizers are also testing a closed-loop system that separates athletes and staff members from the media and spectators.

People inside the loop will sometimes need things like paper documents, personal gear and medical equipment. Robots will be utilized to get those things in without breaking the rules.

The "delivery robots" will be on standby in the buffer zone. In this area, staff members can put objects on the robots, which can carry up to 300 kilograms.

"Once programmed for a certain destination, the robots can move freely within the loop until the mission is accomplished," said Zhang Fan, logistics manager of the sports center.

Besides the robots, smart lockers will supplement the delivery service. They function very much like the lockers in Chinese communities. The delivery person puts the package inside the locker. Then a code is sent to the receiver, who then picks it up from the other side.

The difference is that robots will deliver things immediately. So, anything urgent should go to delivery robots, while the locker can store things for longer.

But they have a shared objective: to minimize person-to-person contact as much as possible. 

Search Trends