Healthcare robots pass trials, promising improved patient care

Experts have successfully tested robots tailored for healthcare environments, boasting capabilities to engage in natural conversations and understand patient needs.

Dubbed the Spring (Socially Assistive Robots in Gerontological healthcare), these units were put to the test at Assistance Publique Hopitaux de Paris in France. Equipped with artificial intelligence, they greeted patients, answered queries, and provided directions, demonstrating a unique ability to comprehend conversations involving multiple individuals simultaneously.

The robots, also adept at handling routine tasks, aim to alleviate patient anxiety and ease the workload of hospital staff. Professor Anne-Sophie Rigaud, head of department at the hospital, emphasized the value older adults place on the robots’ information and companionship, envisioning their integration as a vital element of patient care.

Notably, the trial indicated that these socially assistive robots could minimize physical contact between clinicians and patients, potentially reducing infection risks while enhancing the productivity of healthcare professionals. This progress aligns with the vision of the National Robotarium, a collaboration between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh, funded through the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Region Deal, with additional support from the Scottish and UK governments.

Professor Oliver Lemon, an AI expert involved in the project, highlighted the transformative potential of robotics and AI in conserving resources and lightening human workloads. He expressed optimism about robots seamlessly collaborating with hospital staff to enhance the patient experience, bringing this vision closer to reality.