The RP-VITA Remote Presence Robot, made by iRobot and InTouch Health, has been cleared by the FDA to be used in hospitals. It is the first autonomous navigation robot to gain FDA approval, which is a pivotal move that signals the future of telepresence and robots in health.
The robot allows doctors to remotely connect with patients through an iPad interface, navigating the halls of the hospital without needing to be escorted by anyone. It maps the environment and uses sensors to autonomously move around, even in busy areas.
The RP-VITA allows remote doctor-to-patient consultations, providing access to the necessary clinical information, and enabling them to communicate with hospital staff and patients with a single click, no matter where they are located. Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot, said:
FDA clearance of a robot that can move safely and independently through a fast-paced, chaotic and demanding hospital environment is a significant technological milestone for the robotics and healthcare industries. There are very few environments as difficult to maneuver as that of a busy ICU or emergency department. Having crossed this technology threshold, the potential for self-navigating robots in other markets, and for new applications, is virtually limitless.