Doctors and nurses in Japan – or in other countries, for that matter – may soon have some robotic company when making their rounds. That's because researchers at Toyohashi University of Technology are developing an omnidirectional robot named Terapio, that's designed to take the place of a traditional medical cart.
When accompanying staff down corridors and into rooms, Terapio can operate in Tracking mode. This means that it visually tracks the person who it's assigned to assist, and autonomously follows behind them while also avoiding obstacles.
In order to more precisely position the robot for specific asks, that person can move it manually via its Power Assist mode. In this case, they simply push lightly on a ring-shaped handle on the robot, and it responds by moving itself in the desired direction – not too unlike the SESTO hospital bed motor.
Finally, in Rounds mode, Terapio is reportedly able to obtain patients' vital signs data using its manipulator arm. It can also store that data and subsequently display it, on its LCD touchscreen. That screen is also used for controlling the robot's various functions, and for displaying a Baxter-like set of animated eyes that are said to make it seem friendlier and less intimidating.
When not in use, the plan is for Terapio robots to dock at a charging station, where they will also receive software updates through a server connection.
There's no word on when the technology is expected to see real-world use.