The latest news and insight on how the technology sector is reacting to Covid-19.
Boston Dynamics' spot robot helping to treat Covid-19 patients remotely
Boston Dynamics has announced that its Spot dog robot is being used at a Boston hospital to help with coronavirus patients. The company plans to extend the use of its robots, and has also open sourced its hardware and software for other robot makers and hospitals to follow its lead.
The Spot robot is currently acting as a telemedicine machine, with a custom mount holding an iPad or similar screen to be used for live videoconferencing between doctor and patient. The robot has also been used since last week for remote triage of patients suspected of having Covid-19.
Boston Dynamics is investigating the possibility of Spot robots being used for remote vital inspection, including temperature checks and respiratory rate calculation with thermal camera technology.
BBI puts £10m into SFC
UK seed stage investor SFC (formerly Startup Funding Club) has received £10m from British Business Investments, which is the commercial subsidiary of the British Business Bank. The money will enable SFC to deploy a total of £40m across more than 100 early-stage startups in the UK.
The government’s Future Fund co-investment scheme requires startups to have already received at least £250,000 in private funding in order to qualify. Many early-stage startups are ineligible for government support under the Future Fund scheme and so the SFC’s funding will come as a significant boost.
SFC has already invested a total of £5m across 28 companies in Q1 2020, of which £1.6m came from BBI’s commitment.
Twitter to remove misleading Covid-19 tweets
Twitter has updated its policies on Covid-19 to require users to remove tweets that make unverified claims that “incite people to action and cause widespread panic, social unrest or large-scale disorder.”
Misinformation around Covid-19 has spread widely, and major social media platforms jointly pledged to fight against it on 16 March. Twitter has specifically ruled that tweets inciting damage to 5G infrastructure are included in the new anti-misinformation guidance. The company is prioritising the removal of Covid-19 content that has a call to action potentially inciting harm, but it won’t remove every tweet that “contains incomplete or disputed information about Covid-19”, Twitter has said.
It has removed more than 2,230 tweets with misleading or harmful content since introducing new policies on Covid-19 on 18 March.
Volvo launches Stay Home Store concept for remote car shopping
Volvo Cars has launched a new online sales concept in several of its European markets, which are under lockdown. Car sales worldwide have been severely affected by the quarantine measures brought in to stem the pandemic.
Customers can now buy or lease new Volvo cars on the company’s new platform, which it has built on top of its existing online sales tool. It has also brought in additional financing options.
In the US, Volvo has tried to find a way to work around restrictions by introducing Volvo Valet – a car maintenance service that doesn’t require customers to leave their home.