A hospital’s new robots are running errands for nurses and can replace the work of up to four people each.
The eight robots, all called Noah, move around a hospital in China’s southern city Guangzhou, carrying documents, medicine and surgical equipment weighing up to 330kg (650lbs).
Using GPS technology, a Noah bot is able to navigate the hospital’s complex wings with ease and can carry ten times as much as one human staff member.
Eight drug-dispensing robots for hospitals have made their debut at Guangzhou Women and Children’s Medical Center to transfer medicines, samples and surgical instruments, Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday.
With 12 operating rooms, engaged in more than 100 surgical procedures a day, it’s estimated “Noah” can replace 2-4 members of staff, massively reducing the 1944 km distance that nurses have to walk each year. That’s the same as walking from Guangzhou to Beijing.
The robots are still in their trial phase, Vice Dean of Medicine Zhang Zhiyao said, adding that they are currently only running errands between the centre’s pharmacy and the nurses station – but have the potential to do much more.
Operators have to swipe their cards when putting in or taking out items, as the medicine cabinets carried by Noahs use coded locks.
At 1 meter high and 75 centimeters wide, the robots can travel at speeds of up to 4.3 kilometers an hour and cost CNY600,000 (USD91,000) to CNY700,000. They use GPS to navigate and can understand voice commands, but cannot speak itself.
These robots were developed and manufactured by a technology company in mainland China. With the application of autonomous navigation and automated loading and unloading technologies, robots can transport surgical instruments, drugs, bedding, clothing and medical waste.
The bots can bring supplies to a destination by following a preset route, a head at the manufacturer said. Using a sensing system, they can control and ride elevators without manual assistance.
The intelligent Noah bots are programmed with phrases such as ‘Here I go!’, ‘I’m entering the lift!’ and ‘I’ve been obstructed!’ to notify their human colleagues throughout the day.
The helpers are worth at least 600,000 yuan ($100,000 / £75,000) and are comprised of more than 150 core patents.
Relevant personnel in the back end track and monitor the whole process from the loading of goods to final delivery, he said. “This technology will be applied to every department in the hospital in the future,” he said.
Source: Yicai Global, dailymail.co.uk, chinaplus.cri.cn. Header photo: VCG