Robotics in healthcare: A Malaysian example

As of 15 July 2020, applications to participate in the National Technology & Innovation Sandbox (NTIS) have been opened, for the technology areas of 5G/6G, Sensor Tech, 4D/5D printing, advanced material, advanced intelligent systems, augmented analytics and data recovery, blockchain, neuro tech, bioscience tech, robotics, manufacturing tech, electrical and electronics, cybersecurity and encryption, and last but not least, drones.

According to the website at, the goal of the sandbox is to drive talent development, and to create an alternative route for local tech solution providers to access government procurement.

Application to participate in the sandbox, requires a prototype as well, that demonstrates a technology readiness level of 6 (TRL 6). TRL is a method developed by NASA to assess to the maturity of a technology during the acquisition phase of a programme.

TRL 6 is a phase whereby the prototype system can be demonstrated in an operational environment.

Healthcare delivery

One successful submission is Mak Cik Kiah 20 (MCK20), a healthcare delivery robot that was developed by the local robotics company DF Automation & Robotics Sdn Bhd, in collaboration with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Hospital Canselor Tuanku Muhriz UKM (HCTM). MCK20 can move autonomously on its own to deliver meals and and medicine.

Prior to MCK20, there were two prototypes, the MCK19 which was deployed at at HCTM, and the Dol-E was was deployed at a temporary hospital in MAEPS, Serdang. Dol-E was used to serve the 400 bed hospital which covered an area of 35,700 square metres.

In 69 days, it served 1,383 patients a total of 53,661 meals.

This is quite an achievement because, it reduces healthcare institutions’ reliance upon a human workforce. The use of robotics can reduce risk of infection by a human workforce, as well as reduce usage of personal protection equipment (PPE).

MCK20 is an improved version of the MCK19 and Dol-E. After receiving feedback from usage of the two earlier prototypes, MCK20 has a better design outlook, more safety features, and is more affordable for hospitals to acquire.

The MCK20 was showcased to the public on August 19, 2020, in conjunction with the launch of the National Technology & Innovation Sandbox (NTIS). The NTIS is spearheaded by MOSTI, with support from a secretariat that is represented by MaGIC, MTDC, TPM, MIMOS and Futurise.