At JKIA, a robot in the corridor joins the Covid-19 fight

The smart anti-epidemic robots are a technology advancement that are adding resilience to healthcare and aviation systems that have been weakened by the spread and impact of the coronavirus.

26 Feb 2021 . 1,229 Views

If you are to arrive into the country through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport you are likely to meet with Jasiri, the glossy white robot that is helping to keep the COVID-19 infection at bay.

Jasiri plays a part in ensuring that the more than 5,000 international travelers who arrive at or transit through Kenya’s biggest airport have their temperature checked.

Jasiri makes its rounds along the corridors in the boarding gates at GATE 1A. Spraying disinfectant, scanning passengers to check their temperatures and once in a while reminding passengers to “Please wear your mask”, Jasiri also reminds you to keep your social distance if it senses you are standing too close to the next person.

Jasiri, the robot that can scan 200 passengers in a minute from a meter of up to 3.5meters, is one of three smart anti-epidemic robots that help Kenya’s response to the viral infection that has since infected more than 110million people worldwide with over two million deaths.

They were launched in January by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Ministry of Health with funding from the Government of Japan. The robots are meant to help protect frontline healthcare workers, who have been under immense pressure due to the pandemic and they do this by limiting direct human contact.

The other robots – Tumani and Shujaa – are at the Mbagathi and Kenyatta National Hospitals respectively. The three robots are valued at $320,000 (KSh35 million).

When Jasiri detects high temperatures in a passenger, it gives a warning sound, with a red flashing light alerting the workers at the airport who monitor it from various devices, to spring into action.

Previously, the workers would manually check as passengers came in through the gates for their temperature and this would lead to delays especially when several flights arrived at the same time.

Once the hall is clear of passengers, Jasiri roams the terminal sanitizing and warning anyone in its path to keep distance as it disinfects mapped areas.

Several IT and health workers at the airport have been trained to use Jasiri.

JKIA Operations Manager Simon Peter Njoroge says Jasiri represents the future of aviation.

“To me, it’s not just a tool for data collection and taking temperature. It’s a tool for safety, for enhancing travel experience and a tool for us to make better decisions in airports. It has great deal of capacity to be deployed in many other points of entry, both land and sea. There’s a lot more it can do and I’m glad to know that it is upgradable. It provides enhancements to our travel experience right now when we need to restore confidence. What I see is the future of aviation,” he says.

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