Fujita Health University (Toyoake City, Aichi Prefecture) will soon begin full operation of the first automated PCR testing system using robots, developed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. (Headquarters: Minato Ward, Tokyo). The University demonstrated the system, installed in the dedicated container, to members of the press on February 4. The system is said to identify infection by SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus, within 80 minutes of inserting the test specimen, enabling the rapid testing of up to 2,500 specimens per day.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd. played the central role in the development of the automated robotic PCR testing system and installed it on the grounds of Fujita Health University Hospital located in Toyoake City. The testing equipment, robotic arm, and other related equipment for Covid-19 testing are installed in a dedicated container measuring 12.2 meters long, 2.5 meters wide, and 2.9 meters high. Once the vessel containing the test specimen is placed at the entrance to the system, the entire process is carried out by the robot automatically until the results are known. Furthermore, the dedicated container can be moved in order to use the system at different locations.

At the request of Aichi Prefecture to strengthen PCR testing capabilities, the university established the PCR Testing Center. The center already handles the testing of up to 1,500 specimens per day collected from clinics throughout the prefecture. Accordingly, once the automated robotic PCR testing system is fully operational, their testing capacity will increase to a maximum of 4,000 specimens per day, the highest level in Japan.

The dedicated container holding the automated robotic PCR testing system installed on the grounds of Fujita Health University Hospital (Credit: Fujita Health University)
The automated robotic PCR testing system installed in the container (Credit: Fujita Health University and Kawasaki Heavy Industries)