Digital Telework for Remote Physical Work

Remote-operated robots to help protect long-term care home staff, residents.

Project Budget* - $5.7M

Partner Co-investment - $1.7M

Supercluster Co-investment - $4.0M

Sanctuary Cognitive Systems Corporation (Sanctuary AI) – $4.0 M

*Contracted amounts as of September 30, 2020. 

Project Partners

Project Overview

Working remotely has been a key tool in stopping the spread of COVID-19, but currently there is no technology that allows remote workers to perform physical work. Performing physical work remotely would not only be an economic catalyst during a pandemic, but a critical safety measure for labour-intensive environments like hospitals and long-term care homes. Today, Canadian healthcare workers are three times more likely to contract COVID-19 than the general public. Long-term care facilities have had multiple cluster outbreaks and been a large source of COVID-19 fatalities in Canada.

The Digital Telework for Remote Physical Work project is working to test remotely operated robots in long-term care and clinical settings with the potential for other Canadian labour-intensive industries. The initiative expands the current capabilities of telework technology – currently limited to video and audio interactions – to make physical interactions​ possible by connecting remote workers to general purpose robots through secure mobile networks.

The project is led by Sanctuary AI in partnership with Rogers Communications, Microsoft, Expeto, the University of British Columbia, the Vancouver Economic Commission, Revera, AInBC, Alpine Services, Nurse Next Door and Forcen Technologies.

In hospital settings, healthcare workers are trialing a tele-robotic system to conduct portions of a physical exam. In long-term care homes, the system will be used to measure vital signs and potentially manage the delivery of medications and aid in meal assistance.

The artificial intelligence behind the system also has the potential to learn and automate parts of the care provided, enabling productivity increases for the professionals remotely operating the robots and addressing the systemic shortage of care workers in Canada.

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