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After 28 Days On Ventilator, Family Loses Legal Battle To Try Ivermectin, Other Alternative Treatments, For Dying Father

After 28 Days On Ventilator, Family Loses Legal Battle To Try Ivermectin, Other Alternative Treatments, For Dying Father

Authored by Nanette Holt via The Epoch Times,

A Florida family fighting to give their loved one on a ventilator alternat

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After 28 Days On Ventilator, Family Loses Legal Battle To Try Ivermectin, Other Alternative Treatments, For Dying Father

Authored by Nanette Holt via The Epoch Times,

A Florida family fighting to give their loved one on a ventilator alternative treatments for COVID-19 have lost another battle—this time in Florida’s First District Court of Appeal.

The wife and son of Daniel Pisano first squared off against Mayo Clinic Florida at an emergency hearing on Dec. 30 in Florida’s Fourth Judicial Circuit. Before that, they’d been begging the hospital to allow them to try treating Pisano—who’s been on a ventilator now for 28 days—with the controversial drug ivermectin, along with a mix of other drugs and supplements, part of a protocol recommended by the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC).

The family’s request for an emergency injunction to force the Mayo Clinic to allow treatments recommended by an outside doctor was denied by Judge Marianne Aho. They appealed the decision.

On Jan. 14, Aho’s decision was upheld by Florida’s First District Court of Appeal. The three-judge panel deciding the case included Judge Thomas “Bo” Winokur, appointed by then-Gov. Rick Scott in 2015; Judge M. Kemmerly Thomas, appointed in 2016 by Scott; and Judge Robert E. Long, Jr., appointed in 2020, by Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“An opinion of this Court explaining its reasoning will follow,” the judges stated in the order they issued. 

“So we wait to see what that looks like, unless it takes too long,” said Jeff Childers, an attorney for the family. 

Seventy-year-old Daniel Pisano doesn’t have unlimited time, says Eduardo Balbona, M.D., an independent doctor in Jacksonville who’s been advising the family since they reached out to him while researching other treatments that could potentially help their loved one.

Daniel and Claudia Pisano moved to Florida and bought a homesite to be 20 minutes from their only two grandchildren. (Photo courtesy of Chris Pisano)

Balbona, who has been monitoring Pisano’s treatment at the Mayo Clinic through an online portal, testified on behalf of the Pisano family in the first hearing.

The Mayo Clinic has argued that the treatment plan doesn’t fit with the hospital’s standard protocol for treating COVID-19 patients and they don’t know what the effects of following Balbona’s recommendations would be. The hospital has told the family that Pisano has a less-than-five percent chance of survival, and all that’s left to do is wait and see if he recovers on the ventilator. The Mayo Clinic has not responded to requests for comment.

The family has begged the Mayo Clinic to simply step aside and let Balbona try what he thinks could work. But the Mayo Clinic doesn’t allow outside doctors to treat patients.

Since media reports mentioned his involvement in the case, particularly his confidence in recommending ivermectin, Balbona has faced a mix of hate-filled criticism and desperate cries for help.

He says he’s used ivermectin along with the rest of the FLCCC protocol successfully with minor modifications, on “dozens and dozens” of seriously ill patients suffering the effects of COVID-19. Some of those patients have come to him from as far away as California.

He’s not alone in his belief in ivermectin and the mix of drugs and supplements he’s suggesting. Different health care professionals across the country have spoken out over the past two years about the efficacy of using ivermectin and the FLCCC protocol to treat COVID-19.

The drug has been used for 40 years and won a Nobel Prize for its creator. While ivermectin is most often used to prevent or kill parasites in animals, it has also been widely and successfully used for years to treat parasites and viruses in humans in the United States and other countries. There is an ever-growing list of peer-reviewed studies showing the drug’s efficacy in treating COVID-19.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) indicates there are ongoing clinical trials investigating the use of the drug in the treatment of COVID-19 on a webpage warning people not to self-medicate with ivermectin. The FDA published a tweet in August mocking those who do. And some politicians and media outlets have railed relentlessly against those claiming ivermectin could be an effective and inexpensive way to combat COVID-19.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shared this tweet on Aug. 21, 2021, mocking the use of the drug ivermectin in the treatment of COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of FDA via Twitter)

“You should be embarrassed to practice medicine, to sue the Mayo Clinic to get horse medicine to a human being, because of Internet garbage,” one person seethed on a voicemail at Balbona’s office after his court testimony was mentioned in an Epoch Times article.

“Your license should be revoked, you worthless piece of garbage. You are killing people, not helping them, and to harass the Mayo Clinic, because you are not good enough to be their doctor is disgusting. Disgusting. You and doctors like you should all be banned from society. Shame on you. Disgusting. Goodbye and good riddance. I hope you get COVID. Goodbye.”

Balbona says he deletes messages like that and pushes on with his treatment of patients.

It’s “just the intolerance and hatred that takes me by surprise,” he said, about his office communications now getting “flooded by hate.”

Eduardo Balbona, M.D., completed specialty training in internal medicine at the National Naval Medical Center and served as a physician at the U.S. Capitol, caring for senators, congressmen and Supreme Court justices. (Photo courtesy of Eduardo Balbona, M.D.)

“Everything I do treating COVID is directed at lowering the inflammatory response, which is out of control, and improving blood flow to the lungs, and avoiding the complications of clots,” he said.

“Perhaps the biggest change I’ve made from protocols in the hospital and with FLCCC is increasing the dose of dexamethasone. The dose of dexamethasone in FLCCC is relatively low at 6 mg, and I generally increase that to 18 mg daily in more serious cases. That’s a logic change, and I realize the study support is at 6 mg.”

“There’s a reason for every medicine and everything I do treating COVID with my protocol. I have to be able to defend it since I know it will be attacked. Crazy world we’re in.”

Christie DeTrude, of Switzerland, Florida, feels certain that Balbona’s recommendations saved her husband, Dewey. He had just retired last spring at 59 after a long career as a pipe-fitter. At 200 pounds and 6-feet-tall, he was in the peak of health, with strong “country muscles after a lifetime of turning a wrench,” she said.

Dewey and Christie DeTrude on vacation in Hawaii, before he fell ill with COVID-19. (Courtesy of the DeTrude Family)

When he sought treatment for COVID-19 at an urgent-care clinic in July, he was prescribed ivermectin by a doctor there.

“But what we didn’t know at the time was, it wasn’t a high enough dose, because it’s supposed to be weight-based,” Christie DeTrude said. “Theirs was a very low dose, and they discontinued it after five days and said that it would be damaging to his liver and kidneys if they continued, which isn’t true.”

On his eighth day of illness, he had developed pneumonia, and the urgent-care clinic told him to go to the hospital for treatment with convalescent plasma and oxygen. The referring doctor promised he wouldn’t be admitted, Christie DeTrude said.

When she dropped him off at the Mayo Clinic Florida emergency room, she was told to come back and pick him up in 4-5 hours.

“Once he got to Mayo, they just completely took over, and there was no informed consent,” DeTrude said. “There was no giving him information and letting us make a decision. They made all of his decisions for him, and they follow a standard protocol.”

“There were no choices, there was no discussion…they just kept upping the oxygen,” DeTrude said.

The Mayo Clinic did not return requests for comment by The Epoch Times about DeTrude’s case, Pisano’s case, or COVID-19 treatment protocols, in general.

DeTrude said that eventually, her husband had become so weak, he couldn’t get out of the hospital bed. She felt that the hospital’s treatments weren’t working. She wanted to take him home. The hospital wouldn’t agree to discharge him and didn’t allow her to visit, she said.

Dewey DeTrude’s wife hired an attorney to help her get her husband out of the intensive care unit at Mayo Clinic Florida, so he could be treated at home with ivermectin. DeTrude, shown here on Aug. 3, 2021, spent 46 days in the hospital. (Courtesy of the DeTrude Family)

Days passed. Then, weeks. She says that she could tell from their phone calls that her husband was getting weaker. His 60th birthday came and went. And still, she says the hospital wouldn’t let her visit.

“I was able to get a Catholic priest to come give him Last Rites, and the priest said that my husband’s mental state was like that of a prisoner of war, that he was definitely suffering trauma from the isolation from family, from his faith, from not seeing the sun. He’d lost 35 pounds,” she said.

Part of the problem was that she wasn’t allowed to bring him vegan meals, she said.

“A lot of the food, my husband wasn’t interested in. And when you’re on oxygen, it does affect your appetite, and he needed assistance eating, but they wouldn’t let me be that person,” she said.

After 18 days, Christie DeTrude hired an attorney to help her push the hospital to stabilize her husband so she could take him home. Meanwhile, she searched for an outside doctor who could help.

With that aim, she attended a medical freedom rally in Jacksonville in August, hoping to find something or someone who could advise her. Several doctors spoke about alternative treatments for COVID-19 that hospitals weren’t using, including ivermectin.

The next day, she called them all. Only Dr. Balbona came to the phone to speak with her, she said.

At Christie DeTrude’s request, Balbona promised the hospital that he’d take over her husband’s care. He ordered oxygen, medication, and home-health assistance for the family, she said.

As she waited for Mayo doctors to agree to discharge him, Christie DeTrude prayed every day that her husband could hang on a little longer.

After 46 days at Mayo Clinic, Dewey DeTrude finally was discharged and immediately started following Dr. Balbona’s instructions, taking ivermectin, fluvoxamine to prevent blood clots, and propranolol to treat anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder from his hospital stay. He also took Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and zinc. He ate healthy food and spent time in the sunshine. Within days, it was clear her husband was on the mend, Christie DeTrude said.

Now, four months later, “he’s working part-time, going to the gym,” she said. “He’s completed physical therapy and working on rebuilding his stamina and lung capacity. And if it weren’t for Dr. Balbona, I’m quite sure he would have died in the hospital.”

Gene Bennett, a 77-year-old retired field engineer for IBM, tells a similar story.

He was enjoying life in Bryceville, Florida helping his son clear five acres of land for a homesite when COVID-19 struck in January 2021.

An ambulance transported him to Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside Hospital in Jacksonville, where he was treated with remdesivir.

“They had to keep getting my oxygen higher and higher,” Bennett said. “I was finally up to the point of seven liters per minute, which is almost pure oxygen. And I knew that I wasn’t getting better. I could tell I was getting weaker and weaker. So when the doctor made his rounds on the Monday morning, I said, ‘This is my last day of remdesivir treatment and I know that I’m not improving. What’s our next step?’

“He looked at me and very calmly said, ‘Mr. Bennett, we don’t have a next step.’ He said, ‘We have done all for you that we can do. There’s nothing else we can do for you.’”

Gene Bennett insisted on leaving the hospital, instead of going on a ventilator. (Courtesy of Jane Bennett)

Overnight, Bennett thought a lot about the conversation. The next day, he asked the doctor, “Are you serious? There’s nothing else that this hospital can do for me?”

“He said, ‘No, sir. The next step is for you to go on a ventilator.’”

“Well, I’m not going to do that,” Bennett recalls saying. “I want to be released from this hospital.”

He quickly learned that was no longer a decision he could make for himself.

Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside Hospital did not respond to a request for comment.

“They weren’t going to release me because I was on a high level of oxygen,” he told The Epoch Times. “So finally, after I raised hell with them, to put it mildly, all day, my son picked me up” that evening.

The next morning, Bennett’s wife drove him to Dr. Balbona, his physician for many years. Balbona came out to the parking lot of his office to help him out of the car.

“I could barely walk with a walker without assistance — that’s how bad off I was,” Bennett said. He says Balbona told him, ” You have the most severe case of COVID that I have seen. But I have a medicine I have been using and I’ve had great success with it.”

Bennett needed no convincing.

“What is it? I’ll take it,” Bennett recalls saying. “I know I’m dying. I just feel it.”

“He told me and my wife, ‘Most people that have COVID as severe as you do not survive. We’re behind the curve, but we’re going to try to get you over the hump. The medicine I’d like to prescribe for you is normally a heartworm medicine for dogs—that’s the most common use.’

“He said, ‘They use it all over the world. It’s been around for 40 years, and it’s dirt cheap, but very effective.’

“He said, ‘I would never, ever give a patient a medicine that I thought would be harmful to them.’ And I totally believed, and just accepted the fact he was doing what he thinks was right.

“I thought, I don’t have any options. I know if I don’t take something to stop this, it’s going to kill me.”

They picked up a $30 supply of ivermectin from a drug store that day. Bennett was so weak, he could barely feed himself. His wife and son later told him that they thought he was going to die.

But after five days on what Dr. Balbona prescribed, including Vitamin C, Vitamin D, zinc, steroids, and a diuretic to get fluid off his lungs, he started to improve.

“I’m a firm believer and I’d swear on the Bible, had I not been prescribed ivermectin, I would have died. Had I not stepped out of St. Vincent’s and checked myself out and gone to him and got the ivermectin, I wouldn’t be talking to you today. It saved my life. And for how much money? Thirty dollars!”

He has since read a lot of research about the efficacy of ivermectin in the treatment of COVID-19.

Gene Bennett refused to go on a ventilator when he was seriously ill with COVID-19. After leaving the hospital, his doctor treated him with ivermectin. He made a full recovery.  (Courtesy of Jane Bennett)

“I can’t tell you if it is 100 percent effective for everyone, but I can tell you it was for me. I personally cannot understand why the government balks at giving these treatments. Why don’t they make the announcement that it’s available and let it be an individual’s choice?”

Ivermectin has been approved for the treatment of COVID-19 in all or part of 22 countries.

Over the past year, Bennett’s gotten back to full health, almost, regaining about half of the 45 pounds he lost while he was ill.

His wife’s brother died in early January of COVID-19. They begged the hospital to try ivermectin. The hospital declined.

His daughter-in-law’s mother died of COVID-19, too, in a Jacksonville Beach hospital, after the family begged to try ivermectin, and the hospital refused, Bennett said.

An FDA spokeswoman said she would provide the number of reports of patients who had problems after self-medicating with ivermectin. Three days later, that information had not been provided to The Epoch Times.

The FDA Office of Media Affairs said a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) would be required to obtain details about when ivermectin might be approved for use in treating COVID-19, and about bonafide injuries to people who’ve used ivermectin to treat the illness.

“The most effective ways to limit the spread of COVID-19 include getting a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you and following current CDC guidance,” the FDA’s website advises.

The Epoch Times spoke to a dozen people who have used ivermectin formulated for humans to treat COVID-19 at home. Most obtained prescriptions for the drug through online medical services. None reported having any side effects, even those who admitted to using ivermectin formulated for animals.

Tyler Durden Sun, 01/16/2022 - 20:30

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Government

Sheila Ochugboju named Executive Director of Alliance for Science

Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) is pleased to welcome Sheila Ochugboju as the new Executive Director of the Alliance for Science (AfS), a global communications…

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Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) is pleased to welcome Sheila Ochugboju as the new Executive Director of the Alliance for Science (AfS), a global communications initiative dedicated to promoting access to scientific innovation as a means of enhancing food security, improving environmental sustainability, and raising the quality of life globally. Her start date is June 1.

Credit: Image provided/Sheila Ochugboju

Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) is pleased to welcome Sheila Ochugboju as the new Executive Director of the Alliance for Science (AfS), a global communications initiative dedicated to promoting access to scientific innovation as a means of enhancing food security, improving environmental sustainability, and raising the quality of life globally. Her start date is June 1.

“We are delighted that Dr. Ochugboju will soon be joining us,” said BTI President David Stern. “The Alliance plays a vital role in connecting a range of stakeholders with up-to-date and vital information about how scientific advances can contribute to the future of the planet’s health, an effort that aligns perfectly with BTI’s mission to advance and communicate scientific discovery in plant biology to improve agriculture, protect the environment, and enhance human health.”

“We are fortunate to have someone with Sheila’s experience, connections and vision in this role,” Stern added.

Ochugboju is a leader in science communication and has been a global advocate for science technology and innovation for more than 20 years. She was most recently the Head of Strategic Communications at the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), supporting vaccine delivery communication across Africa and advocating for vaccine equity.

She is also a founding member of the Network of African Women Environmentalists (NAWE), leading in the development of flagship initiatives and products such as the Earth Science Cafes, The Youth Earth Guardians and Landscape Mentors network and the Earth Reflections Podcast, which was rated amongst the leading environment podcasts in Africa in 2020.

“I am excited to join the Boyce Thompson Institute, because together with the Alliance for Science we can offer new lenses, tools, and partnerships to transform how the world understands the role of science in addressing global challenges,” said Ochugboju. “The COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and now food security challenges are teaching everyone that good science communication can literally save lives and livelihoods.”

Founded in 2014, AfS is a global communications initiative that seeks to counter misinformation about agricultural biotechnology, climate change, nuclear power, vaccines, COVID-19 and other contemporary science issues.

To support its work, the Alliance relies on a global network of about 14,000 science allies who engage in their local communities to advance science-based policies. AfS has trained more than 900 science champions, including scientists, farmers, journalists, healthcare professionals and students, in 48 countries to communicate effectively about biotechnology.

“After a comprehensive executive search, we are thrilled to have found someone like Dr. Ochugboju, who has the knowledge and ability to broaden the horizon of the Alliance for Science and bring resources to counter misinformation across a more substantial expanse of scientific endeavor, especially including climate change,” said Ronnie Coffman, Professor of Global Development at Cornell University and Interim Director of AfS.  

Ochugboju graduated with a degree in Medical Biochemistry and then received her Ph.D. in Plant Biochemistry from Royal Holloway, University of London in 1996. She was awarded the Daphne Jackson Trust Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship, based at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, St. Hilda’s College, University of Oxford in 1998.

She has lived and worked in Africa, Europe and the Middle East. In 2016, she received a WINGS WorldQuest Women of Discovery Award for developing and leading pioneering African science, technology and innovation projects. Ochugboju was also appointed as a Global Roving Ambassador for the county government of Kisumu, Kenya, in charge of the portfolio for Transformative Science and Urban Resilience.

About Boyce Thompson Institute:

Opened in 1924, Boyce Thompson Institute is a premier life sciences research institution located in Ithaca, New York. BTI scientists conduct investigations into fundamental plant and life sciences research with the goals of increasing food security, improving environmental sustainability in agriculture, and making basic discoveries that will enhance human health. Throughout this work, BTI is committed to inspiring and educating students and to providing advanced training for the next generation of scientists. BTI is an independent nonprofit research institute that is also affiliated with Cornell University. For more information, please visit BTIscience.org.

 

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How Crowded Are Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Ships Right Now?

Both cruise lines have raised capacities slowly. When will Royal Caribbean and Carnival hit normal?

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Both cruise lines have raised capacities slowly. When will Royal Caribbean and Carnival hit normal?

When Freedom of the Seas sailed from Miami on July 2, 2021, it marked Royal Caribbean International's (RCL) - Get Royal Caribbean Group Report return to North American sailing after being shut down since March 2020. 

That sailing has less than 1,000 people on it, mostly loyal cruisers eager to get back to sea no matter what the rules were (as well as a fair amount of company executives.

That ship can hold 4,375 passengers at full capacity, according to Ship Technology and on that July sailing, it felt empty and crew seemed to outnumber passengers. 

At night, in the British Pub, the crowd was essentially me, two other journalists, and the occasional person who wandered by. 

That made it, perhaps, too easy to get a drink, and while it was a wonderful experience, that sailing only felt normal when everyone onboard took to the upper decks to cheer sail away and celebrate the Fourth of July,

I sailed on Freedom on that July sailing, then again in September, October, November, December, and then again in May.

I sailed Odyssey of the Seas and Wonder of the Seas in between January and May. 

The crowds got progressively bigger through the fall, but even the December sailing (a three-day weekend, which in pre-pandemic times would be at or near capacity) still had a limited capacity.

Royal Caribbean steadily increased the number of people on its ships, with some slight pauses in that as new covid variants popped up and Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) - Get Carnival Corporation Report has followed roughly the same model.   

Dukas/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Cruise Lines Capacity Is Coming Back

How crowded will my cruise be? 

This has been a question seemingly every experienced cruiser has asked. In the summer and fall, that answer was "not at all," and later "not as much as usual," but the numbers of passengers onboard has slowly moved back to normal, even reaching it on some sailings.

Cruise lines generally don't offer a lot of comment on why they might be limiting capacity when technically they no longer have. 

Crew concerns, including not being able to onboard new crew members to allow for full sailings due to slow visa processing times and keeping rooms open fr potential covid quarantines have kept some ships below their full complement of passengers.

Demand, of course, factors in as well. Royal Caribbean CFO Naftali Holtz commented on where his company stands now during its first-quarter earnings call.

"I'd like to comment on capacity and load factor expectations over the upcoming period. We plan to restart operations on all remaining ships by the end of June. 

"We plan to operate about 10.3 million APCDs [available passenger cruise days] during the second quarter, and we expect load factors of approximately 75% to 80%," he said. 

"Our load factor expectations reflect the higher occupancy we are seeing in the Caribbean and lower expectations for repositioning voyages and early season Europe sailings."

It's clear that demand is a factor when it comes to why certain sailings are sailing with fewer passengers than others. 

Carnival has had to limit the cabins it has been selling on its United Kingdom-based Cunard line due to staffing issues.

“As you may have seen in the news, the wider impact of Covid-19 is affecting hospitality and is disrupting airlines and as such this is impacting the number of crew members we are able to get to our ships,” said the company in a statement.

“We naturally want to ensure that all guests across the fleet experience the high standards of service on board that they would expect from Cunard and which we are committed to delivering,” the company added. 

“We are therefore limiting the number of guests sailing as we build crew numbers back up."

Normal Cruise Crowds Are Coming

Once staffing issues return to normal — something that is slowly happening — the biggest concern may be whether the economy slows demand. 

Carnival CEO Arnold Donald said he expects his company to get close to normal over the summer during the cruise line's first-quarter earnings call.

"We're well on our way back to full cruise operations, with three-quarters of our capacity having resumed guest operations and a plan to return the balance of the fleet for the summer season. And while the conversation around covid-19 is greatly reduced, we still have to and are successfully actively managing," he said.

And while neither Carnival's nor Royal Caribbean's CEO said it directly, passengers sailing this summer will likely experience passenger counts in line with tradition. 

That does not mean some sailings won't have limited capacities, or sell poorly, but many will not as long as demand remains within historical norms.

 

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Spread & Containment

Lab, crab and robotic rehab

I was in Berkeley a couple of months back, helping TechCrunch get its proverbial ducks in a row before our first big climate event (coming in a few weeks,…

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I got previews of a number of projects I hope to share with you in the newsletter soon, but one that really caught my eye was FogROS, which was just announced as part of the latest ROS (robot operating system) rollout. Beyond a punny name that is simultaneously a reference to the cloud element (fog/cloud — not to mention the fact that the new department has killer views of San Francisco and frequent visitor, Karl) and problematic French cuisine, there’s some really compelling potential here.

I’ve been thinking about the potential impact of cloud-based processing quite a bit the last several years, independent of my writing about robots. Specifically, a number of companies (Microsoft, Amazon, Google) have been betting big on cloud gaming. What do you do when you’ve seemingly pushed a piece of hardware to its limit? If you’ve got low enough latency, you can harness remote servers to do the heavy lifting. It’s something that’s been tried for at least a decade, to varying effect.

Image Credits: ROS

Latency is, of course, a major factor in gaming, where being off by a millisecond can dramatically impact the experience. I’m not fully convinced that experience is where it ought to be quite yet, but it does seem the tech has graduated to a point where off-board processing makes practical sense for robotics. You can currently play a console game on a smartphone with one of those services, so surely we can produce smaller, lighter-weight and lower-cost robots that rely on a remote server to complete resource-intensive tasks like SLAM processing.

The initial application will focus on AWS, with plans to reach additional services like Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. Watch this space. There are many reasons to be excited. Honestly, there’s a lot to be excited about in robotics generally right now. This was one of the more fun weeks in recent memory.

V Bionic's exoskeleton glove shown without its covering.

Image Credits: V Bionic

Let’s start with the ExoHeal robotic rehabilitation gloves. The device, created by Saudi Arabian V Bionic, nabbed this year’s Microsoft Imagine Cup. The early-stage team is part of a proud tradition of healthcare exoskeletons. In this case, it’s an attempt to rehab the hand following muscle and tendon injuries. Team leader Zain Samdani told TechCrunch:

Flexor linkage-driven movement gives us the flexibility to individually actuate different parts of each finger (phalanges) whilst keeping the device portable. We’re currently developing our production-ready prototype that utilizes a modular design to fit the hand sizes of different patients.

Image Credits: Walmart

This is the third week in a row Walmart gets a mention here. First it was funding for GreyOrange, which it partnered with in Canada. Last week we noted a big expansion of the retail giant’s deal with warehouse automation firm, Symbotic. Now it’s another big expansion of an existing deal — this time dealing with the company’s delivery ambitions.

Like Walmart’s work with robotics, drone delivery success has been…spotty, at best. Still, it’s apparently ready to put its money where its mouth is on this one, with a deal that brings DroneUp delivery to 34 sites across six U.S. states. Quoting myself here:

The retailer announced an investment in the 6-year-old startup late last year, following trial deliveries of COVID-19 testing kits. Early trials were conducted in Bentonville, Arkansas. This year, Arizona, Florida, Texas and DroneUp’s native Virginia are being added to the list. Once online, customers will be able to choose from tens of thousands of products, from Tylenol to hot dog buns, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Freigegeben für die Berichterstattung über das Unternehemn Wingcopter bis zum 25.01.2026. Mit Bitte um Urhebervermerk v.l.: Jonathan Hesselbarth, Tom Plümmer und Ansgar Kadura von Wingcopter GmbH. Image Credits: © Jonas Wresch / KfW

There are still more question marks around this stuff than anything, and I’ve long contended that drone delivery makes the most sense in remote and otherwise hard to reach areas. That’s why something like this Wingcopter deal is interesting. Over the next five years, the company plans to bring 12,000 of its fixed-wing UAVs to 49 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa. It will cover spots that have traditionally struggled with infrastructural issues that have made it difficult to deliver food and medical supplies through more traditional means.

“With the looming food crisis on the African continent triggered by the war in Ukraine, we see great potential and strong social impact that drone-delivery networks can bring to people in all the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa by getting food to where it is needed most,” CEO Tom Plümmer told TechCrunch. “Especially in remote areas with weak infrastructure and those areas that are additionally affected by droughts and other plagues, Wingcopter’s delivery drones will build an air bridge and provide food from the sky on a winch to exactly where it is needed.”

Legitimately exciting stuff, that.

Image Credits: Dyson

In more cautiously optimistic news, Dyson dropped some interesting news this week, announcing that it has been (and will continue) pumping a lot of money into robotic research. Part of the rollout includes refitting an aircraft hangar at Hullavington Airfield, a former RAF station in Chippenham, Wiltshire, England that the company purchased back in 2016.

Some numbers from the company:

Dyson is halfway through the largest engineering recruitment drive in its history. Two thousand people have joined the tech company this year, of which 50% are engineers, scientists, and coders. Dyson is supercharging its robotics ambitions, recruiting 250 robotics engineers across disciplines including computer vision, machine learning, sensors and mechatronics, and expects to hire 700 more in the robotics field over the next five years. The master plan: to create the UK’s largest, most advanced, robotics center at Hullavington Airfield and to bring the technology into our homes by the end of the decade.

The primary project highlighted is a robot arm with a number of attachments, including a vacuum and a human-like robot hand, which are designed to perform various household tasks. Dyson has some experience building robots, primarily through its vacuums, which rely on things like computer vision to autonomously navigate. Still, I say “cautiously optimistic,” because I’ve seen plenty of non-robotics companies showcase the technology as more of a vanity project. But I’m more than happy to have Dyson change my mind.

Image Credits: Hyundai

Hyundai, of course, has been quite aggressive in its own robotics dreams, including its 2020 acquisition of Boston Dynamics. The carmaker this week announced that part of its massive new $10 billion investment plans will include robotics, with a focus of actually bringing some of its far-out concepts to market.

Another week, another big round for logistics/fulfillment robotics, as Polish firm Nomagic raised $22 million to expand its offerings. The company’s primary offering is a pick and place arm that can move and sort small goods. Khosla Ventures and Almaz Capital led the round, which also featured European Investment Bank, Hoxton Ventures, Capnamic Ventures, DN Capital and Manta Ray.

Amazon Astro with periscope camera

The periscope camera pops out and extends telescopically, enabling Astro to look over obstacles and on counter tops. A very elegant design choice. Image Credits: Haje Kamps for TechCrunch

We finally got around to reviewing Amazon’s limited-edition home robot, Astro, and Haje’s feelings were…mixed:

It’s been fun to have Astro wandering about my apartment for a few days, and most of the time I seemed to use it as a roving boom box that also has Alexa capabilities. That’s cute, and all, but $1,000 would buy Alexa devices for every thinkable surface in my room and leave me with enough cash left over to cover the house in cameras. I simply continue to struggle with why Astro makes sense. But then, that’s true for any product that is trying to carve out a brand new product category.

A tiny robot crab scuttles across the frame. Image Credits: Northwestern University

And finally, a tiny robot crab from Northwestern University. The little guy can be controlled remotely using lasers and is small enough to sit on the side of a penny. “Our technology enables a variety of controlled motion modalities and can walk with an average speed of half its body length per second,” says lead researcher, Yonggang Huang. “This is very challenging to achieve at such small scales for terrestrial robots.”

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Scuttle, don’t walk to subscribe to Actuator.

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