Boston Dynamic’s Robot Dog Has Joined the Fight Against COVID-19

“A Boston hospital is using Spot, the dog-like robot of Internet fame, to screen for coronavirus.”H. Bray, The Boston Globe

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Spot, a four-legged robot, is being tested at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital as a way to treat some COVID-19 patients. Boston Dynamics

 

Excerpt:The Robot Dog that helpsHospitalsscreen for coronavirus –ByHiawatha Bray, The Boston Globe

“At Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the first encounter a potentially infected person might have is not with a doctor or nurse swathed in protective gear, but with a talking, animal-like robot that looks like it might have wandered off the set of ‘Star Wars.’

Spot, the agile walking robot from Waltham-based Boston Dynamics, gained Internet notoriety for showing off its dance moves on YouTube.

But now it’s going to work in the real world, striding into the danger zone, armed only with an iPad. The robot is posted just outside the hospital, not so much as a sentinel, but asan intake worker that will help doctors safely interview people who fear they may have been infected with the coronavirus.

Research scientist Hen-Wei Huang talked about Spot the robot during a demonstration at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.CRAIG F. Walker-Boston Globs

‘This collaboration is really looking at how we can do all the things we do as emergency medicine physicians, but at a distance,’ said Peter Chai, an emergency medicine doctor at the Brigham.

The yellow-and-black Spot robot, which resembles a large dog, is positioned inside a big white tent set up in front of the hospital’s main entrance as a triage area for potential COVID-19 cases.

It is fitted with an iPad that displays a physician located safely inside the hospital who can use the device’s camera to see the patient’s physical condition.

The doctor can talk to the patient through the built-in microphone and a mounted speaker, asking standard diagnostic questions.

The physician is also able to remotely control Spot, directing the machine to move around for a better perspective of the patient.

The Brigham began real-world trials of the system last week, with a handful of patients who had agreed in advance to the robotic interviews.

Michael Perry, Boston Dynamics’ vice president of business development, said that as early as February the company began receiving inquiries from hospitals worldwide. ..There are already lots of wheeled robots trundling through hospitals, delivering meals and medications…The current version of Spot is only good for conducting interviews. But the Brigham will soon deploy an upgraded model with cameras that can measure a patient’s respiration rate and body temperature, with no need to make physical contact. And Boston Dynamics isn’t hogging the technical innovations. The company said it is giving its medical hardware and software designs at no charge to any robotics company that cares to use them.”

Related News Articles: “Spot, a four-legged robot, has been sent to Singapore to remind people about social distancing guidelines.” F.  Gans, The Boston globeThis Waltham-built, dog-like robot is crawling through Singapore to remind people about social distancing, By Felicia Gans- The Boston Globe

Spot, a four-legged robot, has been sent to Singapore to remind people about social distancing guidelines. Boston Globe

Boston Dynamics

Website www.bostondynamics.com

Boston Dynamics is an American engineering and robotics design company founded in 1992 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Boston Dynamics is best known for the development of a series of dynamic highly-mobile robots, including BigDog, Spot, Atlas, and Handle.

Watch “UpTown Spot”  and his famous dance moves. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHBcVlqpvZ8

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ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced


Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.


Time: Approximately 2 hours.


Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.


Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine the photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

  1. Boston Dynamics  produces robot dogs.
  2. At Brigham and Women’s Hospital the first encounter a patient might have is with a  robot dog.
  3. Usually medical personnel is swathed in protective gear.
  4. Spot, the agile walking robot  is from Waltham-based Boston Dynamics.
  5. Spot gained Internet notoriety for showing off its dance moves on YouTube.
  6. But now it’s going to work in the real world, striding into the danger zone, armed only with an iPad.
  7. The robot is posted just outside the hospital, not as a sentinel, but as an intake worker.
  8. This collaboration is  helping emergency medicine physicians but at a distance.
  9. The yellow-and-black Spot robot, is positioned inside a triage area for potential COVID-19 cases.
  10. The doctor can talk to the patient through the built-in microphone asking standard diagnostic questions.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

 

Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

Perry said/say the hospitals needed something/some different. Many had/has set/sit up their COVID triage areas outdoors, in/on lawns or in/on parking lots. On/In such uneven surfaces, traditionally/traditional robotics doesn’t make cents/sense, he said. We need/needs something that can handle this/those difficult terrain. Enter Spot, the latest in/on a long series of/on legged robots develop/developed by Boston Dynamics.

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Place students in groups. Hand out the following quotes from speakers in the article. Members are to identify the speakers from the article.

  1. “This collaboration is really looking at how we can do all the things we do as emergency medicine physicians, but at a distance.”
  2. “The Brigham began real-world trials of the system last week, with a handful of patients who had agreed in advance to the robotic interviews. They’re loving it so far.”
  3. “…as early as February the company began receiving inquiries from hospitals worldwide. Was it possible to use a Spot robot to conduct triage interviews?”

 

III. Post Reading Activities

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions:  Have students  discuss the following questions.  To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Have you ever encountered a robot in your everyday activities?
  2. Which hospital is using the robotic dog?
  3. Where was Spot built?
  4. What was the first thing Spot was known for?
  5. According to Boston Dynamics, why wouldn’t a regular robot work in the triage areas  outdoors?
  6. Was Spot the first robotic dog Boston Dynamics built?
  7. Doctors at Brigham have been working on remote diagnostic sensors with engineers from what other institute?
  8. What small items can Spot deliver to infected patients?  In what ways does this small task help the medical personnel?
  9. In your opinion, what other helpful tasks might Spot be programmed to perform in the future?
  10. According to Farah Dadabhoy  how are the patients reacting to Spot?
  11. What new information have you learned from this article?

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas  you’ve learned about the topic from the reading,  two things  that  you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you  would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.

ANSWER KEY