Domo Arigato, Dr. Roboto
The FDA has given clearance to the first-ever autonomous robot for use in medical settings. With it, doctors can examine patients from a remote location.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared the "Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant" (RP-VITA), for "active patient monitoring in pre-operative, peri-operative and post-surgical settings." The five-foot-six-inch device, a joint creation of companies iRobot and InTouch Healthcare, can move autonomously thanks to built-in lasers, sonar, and sensors that keep it from running into people and objects. Through it, a doctor can evaluate a patient's condition from anywhere in the world using iPad-based software. The doctor's face actually appears on a screen that represents the robot's "head." The software can also connect to hospital systems and access patient records.
What's the Big Idea?
The RP-VITA represents another small step for robots as they enter into more real-world civilian settings. iRobot CEO Colin Angle says, "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." The RP-VITA is expected to cost hospitals between $4,000 and $6,000 a month to operate.
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