Every time I hear a story about a robot that can perform tasks that are normally designated for humans, I think of movies like “Smart House” or “This House Possessed” where technology becomes possessed and attacks people. I know, its morbid. A lot of horror movies have themes of future technology gone awry. It’s good to know that in the 21st century, we’ve figured out a way keep our robots from killing people.
Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the approval of the first autonomous telemedicine robot for hospitals. RP-VITA comes equipped with an iPad for a face so that doctors can visit with patients no matter where they are.
RP-VITA was created by iRobot in collaboration with InTouch Health. The automonous robot navigates using state-of-the-art telemedicine and electronic health record integration from InTouch Health. The robot can map its environment and use sensors to move around in a busy environment without getting in the way. The iPad interface allows doctors to communicate with patients and hospital staff to allow for better consultation and care.
The FDA clearance allows for RP-VITA to be used for active patient monitoring in pre-operative, peri-operative, and post-surgical settings, including cardiovascular, neurological, prenatal, psychological, and critical care assessments and examinations.
“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,” said Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot. “There are very few environments as difficult to maneuver as that of a busy ICU or emergency department. Having crossed this technology threshold, the potential for self-navigating robots in other markets, and for new applications, is virtually limitless.”
Let’s just hope that RP-VITA doesn’t fall in love with a patient and then try to kill her family so it can have her all to itself.