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Study Explores the Use of Robots, AI to Ease COVID-19 Pressures on Hospitals

Hospitals across the globe should raise their productivity and efficiency as well as increase safety and quality, while limiting and decreasing charges.

Dr. Leandro Pecchia, from the School of Engineering at the University of Warwick. Image Credit: University of Warwick.

However, due to simultaneously juggling costs, this has led to many years of linear cuts that turned out to be disastrous at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The European Commission has made an investment of €40 million to promote scientists who may redesign the hospital in the coming years.

At the University of Warwick, School of Engineering, Dr. Leandro Pecchia has been granted €13 million for the ODIN project, which involves the investigation of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and robots to help relieve the pressures on hospitals. This will be vital even in the recovery of COVID-19 and prove useful during any other future disasters.

EU Hospitals were not at all ready to combat the COVID-19 pandemic since the number of ICU beds per million of EU habitants has been decreased by 75% over the past 30 years and as a result of decreased investment in territory healthcare services as a response to demographic challenges.


We have identified 11 hospital critical challenges, which ODIN will face combining robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to empower workers, medical locations, logistics and interaction with the territory.

Dr Leandro Pecchia, School of Engineering, University of Warwick

ODIN will employ technologies based on three lines of intervention:

  • Empowering workers with bionics, cybernetics, and AI
  • Launching collaborative and independent robots to improve hospital safety and efficacy
  • Initiating and improving medical device management and medical locations with the help of IoT and video analytics

These areas of intervention will be piloted in six top hospitals in Berlin, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Utrecht and Lodz. ODIN will span from clinical to logistic procedures, including patient management, medical device and PPE management, disaster preparedness for example reorganising Hospitals in case of pandemics, and hospital resiliency.

Dr Leandro Pecchia, School of Engineering, University of Warwick

The team will collaborate with three leading medical device manufacturers: Medtronics, Philips, and Samsung, as well as seven SMEs to reach the vision of the project—hospital management can be transformed by making use of data-driven management like Industry 4.0 technologies, the same method in which evidence-based medicine transformed medicine with data-driven processes.

This is the fifth successful project authored by Dr. Pecchia and his group in the past 12 months, with a focus on robots, AI, IoT, and big data for healthcare, for a sum of £35 million.

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