Even in the midst of the COVID-19, our KY NSF EPSCoR supported researchers continue the vital work of advancing manufacturing in Kentucky.

As they push forward, however, more pressing challenges caused by the pandemic create an opportunity for our research in new manufacturing materials, electronic devices, and robotics to crossover and meet an immediate need for our communities.

The Next Gen Systems team and the LARRI Institute at University of Louisville, along with Dr. Dan Popa, Co-PI of research for KY NSF EPSCoR, are confronting those needs head on.

CDC studies report that about 20% of medical staff treating COVID-19 patients have contracted the disease. As we all know by now, the COVID-19 virus is easily transferrable and difficult to contain. Using robots and advanced human-machine interfaces could help slow the spread of the virus by supplanting certain nursing tasks, putting health care workers at a lower risk of infection.

Next-Gen Systems’ (NGS) ARNA robot (The Adaptive Robotic Nursing Assistant) is a perfect robot for testing these tasks in a real-world setting. Typically used for patient-sitting and patient walking, ARNA is currently adding disinfecting to the list of functions it can perform. NGS is investigating both spray and UV light disinfection methods and hopes to test at UofL Hospital soon.

Work at NGS / UofL with the robot is led by Dr. Sumit Das, Research Scientist, and involves Dr. Sri Sukanta Chowdhury, postdoctoral researcher, two graduate students in Electrical and Computer Engineering at Speed School (Chris Robinson and Shamsudeen Abubakar) and an undergraduate (Carl Yoder).

In addition, they are collaborating with Dr. Mark Running and Dr. David Schultz, UofL Biology, with Dr. Cindy Logsdon from the School of Nursing, Dr. Ruth Carrico from School of Medicine and with personnel from UofL Hospital.

KY NSF EPSCoR is proud to support not only Dr. Popa and NGS, but all of our researchers across the state, making a difference in advanced manufacturing and beyond.

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