In the next few years, tasks like delivering medication and food or transporting laundry and trash could be carried out by specially-developed “service robots” in hospitals. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, thousands of these robots are expected to be introduced in the U.S. as the elderly population grows and the health-care system tries to find ways of dealing with increasing costs and a shortage of doctors and nurses. The article explains:
This new robotic breed is boasting features increasingly found in smartphones, gaming consoles and other consumer electronics, from advanced sensors and motion detectors to powerful microprocessors and voice activation. The service robots are self-aware, intelligent, and able to navigate changing environments, even chaotic hospital settings.
These blue-collar robots, developed by companies including InTouch and Aethon, can enable doctors to do their rounds virtually and can sync with other medical devices to let doctors remotely obtain information from monitors and gadgets. The robots have advanced sensors, giving them location-awareness and navigational skills, so they can stay out of the way of busy doctors and nurses. They can also carry food, medication, medical records, laundry, trash and other items from one area of the hospital to another.