Panasonic Medication Dispensing and Delivery Robots
In the Service Robot Division of the Fourth Robot Awards, Panasonic's medication picking robot system and HOSPI, an autonomous conveyor robot currently being developed, received the Japan Machinery Federation Chairman's Award.
"This robot handles fragile ampoules and vials as gently as a person would, and arranges them on trays. By integrating the robot with digital charting, it's possible to sort out medications for each patient without any mistakes. This enables physicians to spend time communicating with patients and explaining medications, rather than doing routine tasks."
This medication picking robot achieves the lowest breakage rate in the industry - just 1 in 50,000. It does this through a soft handling system, which picks up drugs very gently by turning them over. This robot also puts prescriptions with dosage information onto the trays, completing the series of sorting tasks inside the system.
"This medication picking robot is actually used in about 50 hospitals in Japan. This new series is designed to be very compact, so it can be used in midsized hospitals with 200-400 beds."
At present, prescriptions and drugs are carried by hand, after being checked by physicians. But in the future, Panasonic would like to automate this conveyance work.
"This HOSPI robot is used to transport medications urgently to nurse stations, especially at night, when there aren't enough doctors on duty. It automatically summons an elevator and delivers drugs from the pharmacy to nurse stations by itself."
HOSPI utilizes self-guiding technology, so it doesn't need rails or guide lines along its route. Even if there's an obstacle along its scheduled route, it can avoid the obstacle automatically and make its way to the destination.
"The entire front and the sides of the robot have ultrasonic sensors. So the robot recognizes obstacles, slows down, and operates safely. Even if there are people around, the robot can deliver drugs without bumping into people."
"It will take a bit of time before this kind of robot starts moving around in hospitals, but we will start testing it in December, at the Matsushita Memorial Hospital."
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