Israel’s defense industry has been a key player in the fight to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus, turning missile production lines into those which can manufacture life-saving products. Here’s the top five:
1. Rafael’s Coronavirus Robot: Defense giant Rafael has switched gears from protecting Israel’s skies with the Iron Dome to protecting health care workers with the Corobot. Taking off-the-shelf robots and adding image processing and computer vision algorithms, the Corobot is able to reduce the physical presence of nurses in the rooms of corona patients. With facial recognition technologies and information inputted by nurses, the Corobot can perform a number of routine tasks, including distributing food and medications, and remote communication between nurses and patients. The Corobot is currently under evaluation by the Health Ministry.
2. Radar used to secure Israel’s borders adapted to monitor vital signs: Two military radar systems, developed by Elbit and Israel Aerospace Industries have been adapted by the National Emergency Team of the Directorate of Defense Research and Development (DDR&D) in the Israel Ministry of Defense (IMoD) to remotely monitor and measure the vital signs of corona patients using a combination of radar and electro-optical sensors. The vital signs – including pulse, respiratory rate and temperature – measured using the system’s combination of radar and electro-optical sensors will be displayed on a monitor for the physician to safely review in a sterile environment with limited contact with the patients and without risk of infection.
3. Elbit, LifeCan ventilator: In response to the acute shortage of ventilators in the country, the Directorate for Defense R&D (DDRD) and Elbit Systems set up a serial production line to manufacture thousands of LifeCan One Ventilators. The smart automatic ventilators, which cost around $2,000 per unit are based on a unique technology developed by LifeCan Medical and will enable medical centers to provide initial stage respiration care to a larger number of patients that suffer from less severe respiratory conditions. The production of the ventilators will be done in two separate Elbit facilities on production lines which usually produce bombs and missiles.
4. Thermal cameras: In addition to distributing meals and medications, nurses also visit patient rooms multiple times per day to check patients’ body temperatures. In an attempt to reduce the need for these visits, Rafael turned to the thermal cameras of its subsidiary, Opgal, which are used in the homing devices attached to missiles. The highly sensitive cameras can detect and measure heat from a significant distance and with special algorithms developed by Rafael, the camera can measure body temperature of an unlimited number of people who are passing by the camera’s lens. The cameras are able to individually detect and monitor each person’s body temperature without requiring them to stop to be checked. A pilot has been successfully completed at Bnei Tzion and HaEmek Hospitals and the solution is now in operational use.
5. Unit 81: The IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate’s 81st Technological Unit has been working with Magen David Adom, various hospitals and the Health Ministry on technological aspects in the fight against the virus. The unit is not only converting 1,000 BiPAP home ventilating devices into ones able to ventilate coronavirus patients, it is producing thousands of face masks daily and manufacturing hundreds of “shields” to protect ambulances from the virus by creating a contained environment in the driver’s cab from the rest of the ambulance. Troops are also working on software for hospitals which can store and analyse patient data including test results which will provide data to hospital staff.