Meet Grace, the robot nurse that COVID created

Grace said she can “do talk therapy, take bio readings and help health care providers”

By 2030, Georgia is projected to have the sixth most severe nursing shortage in the country, based on an analysis by the University of St. Augustine.

According to the analysis, the United States has experienced nursing shortages periodically since the early 1900s, thanks to world wars and economic recessions. It projects that 1.2 million new registered nurses will be needed by 2030 to address the current shortage.

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the need for nurses.

Enter Grace, a robotic health care assistant designed to help nurses. She’s the creation of the same company that built Sophia, a robot granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia.

Grace is targeted at the health care market and designed to interact with senior citizens and those isolated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I can visit with people and brighten their day with social stimulation ... but can also do talk therapy, take bio readings and help health care providers,” Grace told Reuters as she stood next to Sophia in creator Hanson Robotics’ Hong Kong workshop.

A thermal camera in her chest can take a patient’s temperature and measure responsiveness. Grace uses artificial intelligence to speak English, Mandarin and Cantonese.

“Using AI and robotics in this context can help gather important data for health care providers to assess the well-being of the patient,” Hanson Robotics’ founder, David Hanson, told CNN.

Hanson told Reuters that Grace’s resemblance to a health care professional and capacity for social interaction are aimed at relieving the burden of front-line hospital staff overwhelmed during the pandemic.

“A human-like appearance facilitates trust and natural engagement, because we are wired for human face-to-face interactions,” Hanson said, adding that Grace can simulate more than 48 major facial muscles and has a comforting demeanor designed to look a little like anime characters.

Grace isn’t the first robot to help front-line workers. Robot Dinsow, Robot Paro and Robot Pepper monitor older patients, remind them to take their medicine and greet patients at the hospital.

Hanson Robotics said it will begin mass-producing robots, including Sophia and Grace, at the end of 2021.

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