Design of a Low-cost Miniature Robot to Assist the COVID-19 Nasopharyngeal Swab Sampling

05/26/2020
by   Shuangyi Wang, et al.
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Nasopharyngeal (NP) swab sampling is an effective approach for the diagnosis of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Medical staffs carrying out the task of collecting NP specimens are in close contact with the suspected patient, thereby posing a high risk of cross-infection. We propose a low-cost miniature robot that can be easily assembled and remotely controlled. The system includes an active end-effector, a passive positioning arm, and a detachable swab gripper with integrated force sensing capability. The cost of the materials for building this robot is 55 USD and the total weight of the functional part is 0.23kg. The design of the force sensing swab gripper was justified using Finite Element (FE) modeling and the performances of the robot were validated with a simulation phantom and three pig noses. FE analysis indicated a 0.5mm magnitude displacement of the gripper's sensing beam, which meets the ideal detecting range of the optoelectronic sensor. Studies on both the phantom and the pig nose demonstrated the successful operation of the robot during the collection task. The average forces were found to be 0.35N and 0.85N, respectively. It is concluded that the proposed robot is promising and could be further developed to be used in vivo.

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