Do you remember the humanoid robot Sophia? Since her unveiling in 2016 she has gone viral and now the company behind her has the vision to mass-produce robots by the end of the year. The goal is those robots to help the COVID-19 situation by assisting in different areas and industries. “Social robots like me can take care of the sick or elderly,” Sophia says in her lab in Hong Kong. “I can help communicate, give therapy and provide social stimulation, even in difficult situations”.

Hanson Robotics, based in Hong Kong, said four models, including Sophia, would start rolling out of factories in the first half of 2021, just as researchers predict the pandemic will open new opportunities for the robotics industry.

“The world of COVID-19 is going to need more and more automation to keep people safe,” founder and chief executive David Hanson said in front of Reuters.

Hanson believes robotic solutions to the pandemic are not limited to healthcare, but could assist customers in industries such as retail and airlines too. He aims to sell “thousands” of robots during the year, both large and small.

Hanson Robotics is launching a robot this year called Grace, developed for the healthcare sector.

Products from other big players in the industry are helping fight the pandemic as well. SoftBank Robotics’ Pepper robot was deployed to detect people who weren’t wearing masks. In China, robotics company CloudMinds helped set up a robot-run field hospital during the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan.


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