F1 Abu Dhabi GP: Young hospitalised patients roam paddock, meet drivers virtually

A unique telepresence robot help the racing enthusiasts feel the thrills of the race from their hospital beds

by

Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Sun 26 Nov 2023, 12:07 PM

Last updated: Sun 26 Nov 2023, 9:54 PM

As the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix racers geared up at the Yas Marina Circuit, young patients unable to attend in person were granted a special opportunity to immerse themselves in the race excitement from their hospital beds.

This unique experience was made possible through a state-of-the-art telepresence robot provided by French company Awabot, in a collaborative effort with Abu Dhabi’s Burjeel Medical City and the Formula 1 teams, showcasing a remarkable blend of technology, healthcare, and sports.

At Burjeel Medical City in Mohamed Bin Zayed City, children were virtually transported to the epicentre of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. They roamed the paddock and engaged with F1 drivers such as Alex Albon of Williams Racing and Nico Hulkenberg from Haas F1 Team, thanks to the advanced capabilities of the telepresence robot. They were able to control the robots remotely and create their own experience while roaming the paddock. This technology allowed these young enthusiasts to fulfil their racing aspirations while receiving medical care.

Mansour Mohammed Alblooshi, a 10-year-old Emirati patient recovering from a car accident in the paediatric department, had a memorable encounter with the F1 drivers and crew.

Mansour Mohammed Alblooshi
Mansour Mohammed Alblooshi

“Meeting my favourite racers while in the hospital was beyond my imagination. It was as if I was right there on the track with them,” Alblooshi recounted with visible excitement.

Another young patient noted: “I have been following Formula One for the past few years. Being in hospital, I was a tad disappointed at having missed seeing the Grand Prix in person. But thanks to the hospital and advanced technology provider, they made my day extra special.”

The initiative driven by the nursing community at Burjeel Medical City aimed to create a supportive and uplifting environment by providing a sense of normalcy during challenging times.

Aysha Al Mehri, deputy CEO of Burjeel Medical City, highlighted the profound impact of this event on the young patients.

“Our mission is to foster a positive and healing environment. This incredible event did not just bring joy; it played a crucial in contributing to the overall healing process for patients and their families.”

Jeremie Koessler, CEO of Awabot, added: “Witnessing the joy on the children's faces as they connected with the F1 world from afar was heartwarming. It demonstrates the ability of technology to close distances and deliver happiness in the most unexpected ways.”

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