Visualize yourself in a hospital with a broken leg, the door to your room opens. Instead of a doctor or a nurse, you see a robot with a mop and a thermometer. What would be your first reaction, are you going to run away screaming with broken legs and all or are you going to stay put like a good patient and let robo-nurse-janitor check you out?
Well, ladies and gentlemen, you have to be ready because by the year 2010 these robo-nurse-janitors will be swarming to a hospital near you.
IWARD, as they are called, stands for ‘intelligent robot swarm for attendance, recognition, cleaning and delivery’. They will take over menial tasks such as mopping the floor, attending hospital visitors and taking them to the right room/bed, taking messages, monitor patients, giving them their medicines and taking their temperature and so much more. These robots are being developed by EU-funded scientists from the universities of Dublin, Cardiff, Newcastle and Warwick. Their aim is to have the three-robot prototype system operational by the year 2010.
According to Project leader, Thomas Schlegel of Fraunhofer Institute in Germany, through The Engineer Magazine, “The idea is not only to have mobile robots but also a full system of integrated information terminals and guide lights, so the hospital is full of interaction and intelligence.”
I wonder how people would react to having these IWARDs following them around, more importantly, how would these so-called intelligent robots interact with us, humans. The movie iRobot comes to mind…
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