Nagoya University Hospital will deploy a squad of robots in February to deliver medicine and test samples, even between floors, while reducing the workload of nurses and other staff members.
Four robots will be operated on night shifts from 5 p.m. through 8 a.m., when fewer employees are working. Depending on the outcome of the yearlong trial run, hospital officials could expand the use of the robots, for example, to cover an inpatients’ ward.
The system was developed jointly by Nagoya University and Toyota Industries Corp., an affiliate of Toyota Motor Corp., on the basis of technology for self-driving cars. The robots will travel on their routes by referring to hospital floor plans and relying on mounted radar devices and cameras that provide a 360-degree field of vision.
If a person gets in the way, the robot may automatically dodge the human or air a message saying, “Excuse me, please let me pass.” The robots can ride elevators to move to different floors. They automatically return to a charging station when they need a recharge.
Registered workers, including nurses and pharmacists, can use a tablet device to call a robot and designate its destination. The robot then automatically delivers the materials according to instructions.