As hospitals confront a pandemic and assist a growing of patients, they have found a valuable assistant: the robot. 

Why a robot?

Well, a robot can’t get sick. With a set of wheels, a tray, and some navigation software, a robot can bring supplies and deliver food, without infecting a staff.

If robots can handle the simple, repetitive tasks like taking a patient's temperature or blood pressure, doctors and nurses are freed up to focus on other critical tasks.

In this episode of our Tech Briefs podcast series Here's an Idea™, we look at a set of robots already helping out the hospital.

There's "Tommy," a technology used in Italy that monitors equipment and records messages from patients.

There's "Spot," a four-legged, four-camera-ed robot that carries around a tablet so that a human doctor can communicate with someone remotely.

We also talk with the human creators of a delivery "Tiago" robot in Spain, as well as the lead researcher behind a kind of really, really long robotic arm.

So Here’s an Idea: Hospital Robots!

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Episode Highlights:

  • (1:26) Medical Design Briefs editor Sherrie Trigg reveals some of the most interesting robots she's seen in hospitals these days.
    One favorite, says Trigg, is "Moxie," who brings essentials from the supply closet to the patient...autonomously.
  • (5:55) John Hopkins University Professor Russell Taylor explains an idea for a robotic system that lets nurses and doctors avoid the time-consuming process of donning and doffing PPE.
    "It occurred to us that, gee, if we could have some kind of a robot that could be operated remotely, the robot wouldn't care if there were germs and it could push the buttons," Taylor says in our episode.
  • (12:22) Lorna McKinlay and David Fernandez from the Barcelona-based PAL Robotics described how their "Delivery" and "Conveyor" robots found a place in two hospitals in Spain.
    Reactions ranged from "Can it clean my house?" to "Can I take a selfie?"
  • (16:42) What the robots lack perhaps? Human touch.
    Sherrie Trigg talks about the balance needed between help from a robot and help from a human caregiver.

Photos and Videos of the Robots Featured in our Episode:

A nurse in Barcelona receives supplies from the Tiago Delivery robot.
Meet 'Spot.' Researchers from MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital hope to reduce the risk to healthcare workers posed by Covid-19 by using the 'Spot' robot from Boston Dynamics. Spot carries a tablet for remote communication and also takes patients' vital signs. (Image Credit: MIT)

In the below video, watch the Tiago Delivery from PAL Robotics as it navigates through hospitals:

Watch a demo of the Johns-Hopkins remote-controlled touchscreen ventilator:

Meet 'Tommy' the Robot:


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