back to article Korean boffins build COVID-bot to shove a swab right up your hooter

The South Korean Institute of Machinery and Materials has developed a robotic rig capable of shoving a COVID-19-sputum-sampling-swab right up your hooter, so that medicos don’t have to come into contact with possibly-contagious patients. The robot is remotely-controlled, with a joystick-like device allowing staff to aim a swab …

  1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    For once I'm glad I'm blind...

    Just the _description_ of that sucker filled my mind with horrid visuals of "New! From the makers of the Sinusbot, The Colostobot 9000!"

    I think the blast doors on my ventilator shaft slammed shut so hard that they may have cracked my frame.


  2. Woza


    "Boss? I have Oracle, Microsoft and many other software licencing teams on the line - they want to know how soon we can start taking orders."

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's up with the nose!

    There was a robot developed for throat swaps recently - seems less likely to stab you in the brain.

    You have to imagine both of these machines - and any others developed - will be useful beyond Covid, so we're better prepared for an eventual next time.

  4. ThatOne Silver badge

    Slightly overengineered

    Given peoples' bodies aren't standardized and this seems like a delicate task which would profit from the human sense of touch, I wonder if it is the best candidate for robotization. Especially since the out-of-sight operator will most likely be some grad student more focused on his/her Facebook updates.

    Also, between placing the heads the victims patients exactly where the robot expects them, and removing the corpses every now and then, I'm not sure it will be more efficient than a standard human in a hazmat suit (which would certainly be cheaper).

    Sounds more like a case of "now how could we make some money out of this Covid-19 mess?".

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: Slightly overengineered

      Don't forget the decontamination after it has been breathed upon by the potentially contagious. I'm sure a disposable gown and gloves is far simpler and cost-effective.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Slightly overengineered

        I was thinking exactly the same, surely the head rest and other bits would be very contaminated by SARS-COV-19 (or whatever other respiratory infection prompted the test).

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Slightly overengineered

          The advantage being that you can clean this between uses.

          We tried dumping doctors into vats of bleach but it voids the warranty

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    How long before that shows up in an NSFW video?

    As for it's intended nasaly intrusive uses, I'll pass and do it myself if nobody wants to get near me, having had a couple of metres of ointmenty bandage stuck up my schnozz after breaking it, I am reluctant to have anyone mess around with it.

    The breaking wasn't as bad as the treatment.

  6. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    Any ideas...

    On how good the software is? Does it fail safe or would it just carry on regardless?

    Out of all a number of robotic machines around this is one that I don't want to see get stuck in a loop or crash (especially not while it's trying to peel the back of my throat out through my nose).

    1. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      Re: Any ideas...

      Would that be a Blue Scream Of Death?

      *Runs away*


    2. Korev Silver badge

      Re: Any ideas...

      There are already robots doing surgery for prostate cancer, although the full picture isn't clear yet the men seem to do better.

      1. Shocked Jock

        Re: Any ideas...

        Admittedly, by the time you arrive on that operating table the men in white coats have already done their best to distribute cancerous cells throughout your body from your prostate anyway, and it won't really make much difference. (We all have cancerous prostate cells by a certain age - but most of us manage to avoid the biopsy that would turn it into cancerous cells elsewhere.)

  7. Scott 53


    Alien meets Pr0nhub

  8. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    I can confirm your humble hack's thesis

    The throat swab is ok, but the nose swap is - literally - a pain.

    But at least I don't have CV19 (or didn't, last week).

  9. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Nostril Picker

    It's the title of an awful '80s horror movie and I both owned it and had the poster on my wall. As a smoker I need to pick my nose just to breathe. Lately I've been wrapping my finger in tissue, but I would welcome a robot assistant.

    "How come I can pick my ears but not my nose?

    Who made up that rule anyway?"

    -Ani DiFranco (1990)

    The World Health Organisation, Ani, the Center for Disease Control.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Possibly a tad too late

    I'm aware of at least two separate rapid result Covid19 tests under development* that have no need to shove swabs deep into orifices as they are use blood. Admittedly, that brings its own problems, but getting a drop of blood is an established routine for diabetics and thus amply supported by all sorts of gadgetry, even when not in a lab.

    * Well, actually past development, I know this because they're in the process of getting investment after successful human trials.

    1. JDPower

      Re: Possibly a tad too late

      Also at least one being developed that uses saliva.

  11. Danny 2 Silver badge

    The needle test

    14 years ago I was tested for breast cancer. I'd mentioned in passing to my GP that I felt a small lump under a nipple. She felt it, and then asked, "Can I feel your balls?"

    Only situation that could sound scary.

    I never knew men could get that, but apparently it is deadlier due to lack of soft tissue so I was fast-tracked and sent straight to the hospital for testing.

    The doctor stuck a cartoon needle the size of my forearm through my nipple and poked around to get a sample. He had a pretty teenage nurse so I'd steeled myself to look brave, but I screamed and nearly cried.

    Then I was sent for a mammogram. I am/was skinny so the nurse had to squeeze my bloody painful nipple between two metal plates.

    The worst part though was the wait for the results, which were fine but I burned a few bridges in that time.

    My point being no swab test should scare anyone. I also don't mean to discourage anyone from taking a breast cancer test; it is bad but it's better than the alternative

  12. getHandle

    That's how the test works...

    And they wonder why half of home tests are void... You would be afraid of spearing your cerebellum!

    1. DJO Silver badge

      Re: That's how the test works...

      Have to be an extra long Q-tip, the cerebellum is at the back, the front part is the cerebrum, I think the temporal lobe would be the target if attacked through the nose with a weaponised Q-tip.

      1. RM Myers Bronze badge

        Re: That's how the test works...

        The pituitary is right there also. That is how they surgically remove a pituitary tumor - through your nose.

        I've had sinus surgery twice. the first just used a local anesthetic, and I watched the ENT doctor pull crap out of my sinus through my nose, which was then packed with bandages. Not pleasant at all, but better than the second time when they completely put me under, and I had to rinse my nose and sinuses for several weeks afterwards.

        Based on my experiences, I'm hoping to avoid a COVID-19 nasal swab!

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