A university hospital in Japan is to deploy a group of robots to deliver medicine and test samples to help staff on night shifts.
According to a report by The Asahi Shimbun, four robots will be deployed at Nagoya University Hospital between 5pm and 8am, when fewer nurses and other staff are on shift.
The robots, which have been developed by Nagoya University and technology giant Toyota, will use cameras and radar to navigate the floors of the hospital and be programmed with floor plans to further aid movement, before automatically returning to a charging station.
The bots have even been programmed to say “excuse me” if they encounter humans in the corridors while on their delivery routes.
The devices themselves will effectively be fridges and filing cabinets on wheels, able to carry up to 30 kilograms and travel at just under four kilometres an hour.
The use of robotic helpers in industry is already common in Asia. For example, LG has deployed its Airport Guide Robot to Seoul’s Incheon Airport in South Korea – the bot can scan boarding passes and show passengers to their gate.
For Toyota’s hospital bot, staff will be able to use a tablet to call a robot and designate it a destination, with the robot then automatically delivering the materials given to it as per the instructions.
A trial of the robots will initially run for a year, taking place in the surgical intensive care unit, department of hospital pharmacy and clinical laboratory.
Nagoya University Hospital said it was open to expanding the robot rollout to other wards of the hospital should it be deemed a success.