From disinfection and remote triage, to logistics and delivery, countries around the world are making use of robots to address the unique challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the story of robots and COVID-19 is not just about which countries are using robots to help manage their pandemic response; it is also about how the pandemic has become an inflection point for accelerating investment in robotics more broadly.

At the UofT Robotics Institute, we wrote our first collaborative paper on robots and the pandemic. Written in plain language and free of technical jargon, this paper aims to provide decision-makers with a primer on the use of robots and their potential in the fight against COVID, both in the global and the Canadian contexts.

To understand how to best make an impact with robots here in Canada, we conducted interviews with robotics industry professionals and stakeholders in areas as diverse as hospitals, public health, public transportation, manufacturing/retail industries, education, and government labs. We used these dialogues, along with our collective 130 years of experience working across the spectrum of the field to identify Canada’s biggest strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for robotics innovation.