Intelligent automation • Viewpoints

Working Together to Find Viable Covid-19 Solutions

By Justine Crosby, Director Brand and Communications, Bright Machines  

During this time of a constant stream of bad news, I find that those glimmers of good news and good deeds shine even brighter. From Jake Medwell and Drew Oetting, two venture capitalists and roommates in San Francisco, who have become the improbable middlemen for hundreds of millions of protective supplies to GM and Dyson stepping up and stepping in to manufacture Covid-19 equipment and devices, these efforts are not only lifesaving, but the stories inspirational.  

Last month, our CEO Amar wrote that companies like ours have a responsibility to help quickly scale the manufacturing needed to ward off the virus’s impact and announced that Bright Machines will provide no-cost automation for up to 12 months for the production of medical device solution to combat Covid-19.  I’m pleased to report that we’re in conversations with several companies who have real solutions to support the ever-growing need.  

It’s with this global community spirit in mind that Bright Machines team members in our Tel Aviv office, across functions and organizations, engaged in an opportunity to put their engineering expertise and our technology to use. Collaborating with Impact Lab and iCobots they are working on a non-human testing line for Covid-19.  Today much of the testing is done manually, with the very real risk of exposing lab technicians to the virus. Sadly, two people in a Tel Aviv lab were recently diagnosed as positive for Covid-19 after coming in contact with test kit fluid.

Leading the effort, Bright Machines provided a robotic cell to support handling the samples with limited human touch-points, and our team is volunteering their time and considerable experience to engineer this part of the solution. By automating the lab testing process, work can be done 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, dramatically increasing the volume of tests per day.  

“Besides increasing the pace of testing, the robot will help protect medical staffs’ health and reduce the number of errors. It will also enable the release of essential medical workforce currently working around the clock in the testing labs.”

Israel Innovation Authority

Under normal circumstances getting a project like this approved would have taken months, but today, everyone is moving fast to find a viable solution to this real and urgent need, including developing a working prototype in just three weeks. The combined technology from Bright Machines, Impact Lab and iCobots carries out the tests using multiple advanced robotics arms and is expected to start operating within days. We’ve had initial interest from hospitals in Israel about our smart automation solution, and as news of this effort in Israel has spread, we’ve been contacted by research organizations to learn how they too can partner with us to automate sample preparation at their facilities in the U.S.  

Living through the escalation of the Covid-19 pandemic has been a surreal and challenging experience for all of us.  This said, I for one, remain genuinely optimistic that by coming together for the greater good, we will find solutions to contain and fight this pandemic.  

To see the project in action, check out this video recorded in the Tel Aviv lab.

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