Thursday, 17 June 2010
A hospital in Scotland is to become the first in the UK to use a fleet of robots to carry out day-to-day tasks.
The robots will carry clinical waste, deliver food, clean the operating theatre and dispense drugs.
They are currently undergoing final tests ahead of the August opening of the new £300m Forth Valley Hospital in Larbert, Stirlingshire.
The robots will have their own dedicated network of corridors underneath the hospital.
NHS Forth Valley chairman Ian Mullen said the new hospital would be “packed full of design features to improve patient care and improve the life of staff”.
Members of staff will use a hand-held PDA to call up the robot to move meal trays, or linen, or whatever
Ian Mullen NHS Forth Valley
He added: “Members of staff will use a hand-held PDA to call up the robot to move meal trays, or linen, or whatever.
“The robot will come up in the service lift by itself, pick up the item and go back into the lift.”
Tom McEwen, the project manager for manufacturer Serco, said a series of pre-programmed routes would be set out for the robots to follow.
“The robots will follow the sytem using a series of laser beams which will tell it exactly where it is,” he explained.
Computers on board the robots will be able to tell doors to open, and sensors will tell the robots to stop if anything – or anyone – is in the way.
One of the most valuable aspects of using robots is in controlling infection.
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