In times of crisis, we all want to know where the robots are! And young roboticists just starting their careers, or simply thinking about robotics as a career, ask us ‘How can robotics help?’ and ‘What can I do to help?’. Cluster organizations like Silicon Valley Robotics can serve as connection points between industry and academia, between undergrads and experts, between startups and investors, which is why we rapidly organized a weekly discussion with experts about “COVID-19, robots and us” (video playlist).
During our online series, we heard from roboticists directly helping with all sorts of COVID-19 response, like Gui Cavalcanti of Open Source Medical Supplies and Alder Riley of Helpful Engineering. Both groups are great examples of the incredible power of people working together.
Open Source Medical Supplies (OSMS) was formed in March 2020 to research and disseminate open source plans for medical supplies used to treat and reduce the spread of COVID-19 that could be fabricated locally. Additionally, Open Source Medical Supplies supports, mentors, and guides local communities as they self-organize hospital systems, essential services, professional fabricators, makerspaces, and local governments into resilient, self-supporting supply units.
In its first two months of operation, Open Source Medical Supplies helped organize over 73,000 people in its Facebook group, produced 6 iterations of its Open Source COVID-19 Medical Supply Guide featuring 20 design categories and 90+ curated open source designs, engaged over 200 Local Response groups in 50 countries. OSMS materials are being translated into 40 languages, and OSMS guidance and collaboration platforms have catalyzed volunteers around the world to produce and deliver over 11 million medical supply items to their local communities (as of May 30).