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Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Robots invade hospitals

Rodney Brooks of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology predicts that the use of robotics in everyday life will surge. He specifically sees a role for robots in the healthcare sector. According to Brooks, a number of US hospitals are already using robots as "human assistants", freeing nurses to focus more on patient care. In less than 50 years, Rodney Brooks expects to see robots deployed in all aspects of everyday life. The US is leading the way with using robots as human assistants in hospitals to help improve the working environment of nurses. Worldwide more than 200 hospitals have installed automated guided vehicle systems (AGVS) so far.

JBT Corporation (formerly FMC Technologies), Chicago, IL, is a world leader in providing Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) Systems and supplies ATLIS (Automated Transport and Logistics Integration Systems) specifically designed for the hospital and health care industry to provide safe, efficient automatic transportation of goods. The goods typically transported by the system include carts of dietary/food items, medical/surgical supplies (case carts), linens, trash, regulated medical waste, pharmaceuticals, items for decontamination centers, and general housekeeping items.

Aethon, based in Pittsburgh, Pa., has developed TUG a automated technology platforms redefining hospital supply chain logistics by automating the location, delivery and recovery of key assets. TUG is used in more than 100 hospitals by central supply, dietary units, laboratories, laundry rooms, mail rooms, materials management, medical records, nursing, pharmacy and other departments.

In Europe Swisslog, based in Buchs, Switzerland is the leading with its TransCar, a automatic guided vehicle system (AVG) for healthcare industry that negotiates multiple-floor facilities with narrow aisle-ways and human traffic. The TransCar AGV employs industry-leading virtual path, laser contour-following guidance. This automatic guided vehicle system does not require embedded wires, tape or chemically applied guide paths.

InTouch Health, a remote presence robotics company operating from California let doctors "virtualise" or "beam in" to a patient's bedside without having to be physically present.

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