The QC Bot not only incorporates autonomy, but also interacts with humans in natural ways that follow social conventions. “We have put a lot of effort into the human-robot interaction aspect of the project to make sure that people enjoy interacting with the robot. That is one thing we didn’t have to worry about on Mars,” says Theobald.
The robot’s location can be communicated to hospital workstations, smart phones, or mobile devices, and doctors and nurses can call QC Bot to transport items like laundry, packages, or meals. Users can also place items in the robot’s locking drawers, indicate the recipient, and then verify identities through biometrics, ID cards, or barcodes. If QC Bot encounters an unfamiliar obstacle in a facility, it will find a way around it or find a new route.
Currently, QC Bot is being used at a number of hospitals in the United States and internationally. Theobald believes the technology has the potential to improve efficiency, reduce medical errors, and increase patient and staff satisfaction. So far, the NASA-derived technology has helped to create 20 new jobs at the company, and Theobald expects that number to expand.
Most recently, Vecna’s QC Bot technology started spinning back into NASA. “We have a new NASA partnership through the SBIR program on using machine vision techniques to monitor astronaut performance and health based on human tracking work that we do on QC Bot,” says Theobald. “We really enjoy working with NASA to push the boundaries of human understanding while at the same time using that work to provide concrete benefit to daily life here on earth.”
And that is precisely how technology innovation happens. Before QC Bot came Rocky 7. What will QC Bot lead to?
QC Bot® is a registered trademark of Vecna Technologies.