The Mayo Clinic announced today a partnership with Bestmile and the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) to use autonomous shuttles that carry medical devices and COVID-19 tests collected at the hospital's transit test site. The hope is that they will speed up the delivery of much-needed supplies while reducing the risk of human exposure to the coronavirus.
On March 30, Mayo Clinic announced that its Florida facility will use four shuttles from suppliers Beep and Navya to transport COVID-19 tests from the test site to a processing laboratory on the hospital campus. (Beep transported three shuttles from Lake Nona outside of Orlando, which JTA added with an additional shuttle from an ongoing autonomous vehicle program.) COVID-1
Although the partnership is small in scale, it is in line with a global trend: autonomous vehicles are being tapped into health systems to provide medical care in regions affected by COVID-19.
In China, the startup Neolix claims to have delivered medical supplies in delivery vans and supplemented the labor shortage in the areas most affected by COVID-19. Working with Apollo, Baidu's autonomous vehicle platform, these vans also delivered food to Beijing health workers who care for the sick.
In mid-March, KiwiBot's autonomous delivery robots began delivering hygiene articles, masks, and antibacterial gels and hygiene products to the Berkeley and Denver communities in mid-March.
"Delivery robots provide more convenience and perceived security without having to entrust your life to them," said Amit Nisenbaum, CEO of Tactile Mobility, a provider of tactile data and sensor technologies that help them Autonomous vehicles can detect road bumps, bends, and hazards, VentureBeat said in an earlier interview. "People theoretically understand that [autonomous vehicles] will reduce the spread of infections by taking social distance into account."