Panasonic’s hospital delivery robot, HOSPI, will begin a new trial at the Matsuhita Memorial Hospital in January 2011, which they hope will validate their proposed business model (Matsushita is Panasonic’s parent company). With poor sales, the robot’s future may depend on it. They’ve made some improvements since its introduction in 2004, including better obstacle detection, the ability to plot the shortest route through a building (using maps input in advance), and the ability to ride elevators automatically. The robot contains four laser range finders and 27 ultrasonic sensors, and uses LED markers to navigate with a high degree of precision.
The hospital will begin using 2 HOSPI robots during the night shift, where it will transport drugs from the basement to each of the hospital’s six floors. Previously night shift clerks and pharmacists had to do the leg work, so they’ll be able to work more efficiently now that the job is automated. By April the staff will have been trained how to use them, and another 2 robots will be deployed during the daytime.
[source: Robonable (JP)]