A robot with a heart of gold
Exploring the different applications of robotics across society.
While there were a number of impressive technologies showcased at the recent 2017 CES in Las Vegas, what I found most impressive was all the announcements around robotics. They dominated the spotlight at this year’s edition of the show.
Robots of all flavours were present, ranging from robotic baristas serving coffee, to voice-activated personal assistants, as well as cleaning droids designed for the smart home environment.
Also present were a number of humanoid robots designed for the healthcare market, which included a helper bot from French start-up Yumii with Cutii, specifically made for at-home elder care.
Healthcare robots is hardly a new concept. In fact, for the past couple of years, Japanese robotics has been tinkering with robot caregivers for the elder care market.
Starting with simple safety bots that protect their chargers from various life-threatening hazards, to assisted walkers and companion units, robots are quickly becoming a familiar sight in Japanese society.
Researches within the field have also begun to explore the use of robots in treating psychological trauma, such as in the case where robotic seals were helping comfort elderly survivors of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
One of the most recent developments in medical robotics is focused on utilising robots to support hospital operations and improve productivity, through the automation of supply chain processes.
Automated guide vehicles (AGV) are quickly becoming popular as a material handling solution in hospitals and clinics. This in turn allows healthcare professionals to focus on patient-care activities, rather than the removal of medical waste, as well as the delivery of food and medical supplies.
In an effort to optimise drug therapy, automation has been introduced into pharmacy operations with automated dispensers overseeing the handling and distribution of medication.
The use of analytics is also being explored by many pharmacies were analysis of data could provide more insights into how to optimise work flows and enhance store efficiencies.
Here in the Middle East, there is a growing demand to introduce more and more robotics into healthcare, particularly as a smart city initiative.
One prominent example lies with Robo Doc, a telehealth project that was launched by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) back in 2016.
With the the end of its pilot phase in sight, the project saw the deployment of telepresence robots at the Hatta Hospital’s emergency department and the Nad Al Hammar Primary Healthcare Centre, and is linked to Rashid Hospital’s
Set to be completed by March, 2017, the initiative will then see the rollout of RoboDoc across DHA’s healthcare network, as well being extended to home-care patients, where clinical caregivers can visit and dial in tele-consultations.