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Robot delivers food, 'get well soon' messages to Indonesians in COVID-19 isolation

Designed with the help of a group of Indonesian university lecturers to entertain a village, a homemade robot has found a new use during the pandemic- bringing food, and hopefully a smile, to self-isolating residents who have contracted COVID-19.

Assembled from eclectic household items like pots, pans and an old television monitor, the robot was renamed the "Delta robot" by the project team after the highly contagious variant of the coronavirus that has ripped through Indonesia.

"With this new Delta variant and the surging number of COVID-19 cases, I decided to turn the robot used for public services into one that sprays disinfectant, delivers food and necessities of residents who are self-isolating," said Aseyanto, 53, a community leader who led the robot-making project. "I am shifting the function to serve only the members of the community who are in need." 

With the robot's head made from a rice cooker, it is operated by remote control and its battery should allow for 12 hours of operation. It has also been modified to spray disinfectant to stop the spread of the virus.

The village where the robot operates is in Surabaya, which is the capital of East Java province and Indonesia's second-biggest city. Surabaya has been swept up by a devastating second wave of coronavirus infections in the past month.

Indonesia has become the epicentre of Asia's COVID-19 outbreak and recorded more than 3.68 million infections and over 108,000 deaths from the virus.

After trundling down the street to the home of an isolating resident, the robot's speaker emits the message "assalamu'alaikum" (Peace be with you), followed by "a delivery is here. Get well soon."

"This Delta robot is very simple, the materials used for it are made from used pots, pans, and tube television boxes. When we created this, we wanted to use only used materials so we made use of the waste that was in our neighborhood," said Aseyanto, who goes by one name. He stressed the robot was a joint project with local people and is by no means a high-tech device.

On Monday (August 9) Indonesia extended COVID-19 curbs on populous Java and Bali islands until Monday (August 16) but will ease them in 26 areas where new infections are decreasing. 

(Source: Reuters)

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