January 26, 2013
A robot avatar for physicians that can navigate hospital corridors on its own has received the green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The RP-VITA robot represents the “smartest” telepresence robot that physicians can control remotely to interact with patients in hospitals hundreds or thousands of miles away. Onboard software “brains” from iRobot — the company that makes the self-driving vacuum “Roombas” — allow the new robot to obey movement orders without requiring direct human control.
“Previous generations have had to be driven,” said Charlie Vaida, a public relations manager for iRobot. “This one you can operate on your iPad by tapping on patient Joe Smith in room 32, and it’s going to go there while avoiding people and obstacles.”