Australian Hospitals Now to Use Automated Robots

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | December 3, 2012 2:12 PM EST

Australian patients and their caretakers better start getting used to having some of their hospital requirements served by an automatic guided vehicle (AGV), with the Royal North Shore Hospital in New South Wales the very first to engage the modern technology.

Jillian Skinner, NSW health minister, announced over the weekend the Royal North Shore Hospital became the first hospital in the entire resource-rich nation to utilise the robots.

"Not only will they assist staff to do their jobs more efficiently without the risk of painful injuries, they will reduce accidental cross-contamination of goods during transport," Ms Skinner was quoted by The Big Pond News.

At a cost of $4 million in total, Royal North Shore's 13 AGVs came from Germany and hs been scheduled to be fully operational later this month.

Most often used in industrial applications to move materials around a manufacturing facility or a warehouse, the application of an AGV inside hospitals are likewise becoming increasingly popular in the healthcare industry for efficient transport.

The AGVs stationed at the Royal North Shore Hospital's new acute services building, according to Ms Skinner, will deliver and collect 3,600 meal trays per day, on top of hundreds of clean as well as dirty linen and other essential waste from all over the hospital.

The flatbed-styled vehicles will be placed under trolleys for a safe, quiet and efficient transport of supplies around the hospital, almost oblivious to the staff and also so as not to disturb the recovering and sick patients.

Royal North Shore Hospital has designated certain lifts in the building for the exclusive use of the AGVs. Equipped with flashing lights, turn signals as well as audible voice technology, these will be utilised every time to notify people of their approach.

They will not enter clinical areas, according to The Big Pond News report.

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