Robots/Robotics in Healthcare


Bernadette Keefe MD


Robots, through their combined “otherness” and “sameness”, capture the human imagination. However, the purpose of robots, and use of robotics, has always been, essentially, practical. Humans have used robots to do work since ancient times. It’s the capacity of robots to produce, on a consistent basis, over and over again, which makes them valuable. Now, with sophisticated software, robotic applications have shifted from the purely industrial uses, to include the service industries. With elegant algorithms, speech and facial expression abilities, and recognition, robots are increasingly interacting with us, on a more personal level, in everyday life.

The healthcare industry is under significant pressure from many sides. The major causes include: out of control costs and prices, labor shortages throughout the ranks, a continuous explosion of information and technology, and an increasingly sick and aging population. The promise of robots and robotic applications to help ease the labor gap, and improve efficiency and safety, has captured the attention of many in the healthcare sector.

In this paper I will define a robot, briefly cover the history of robotics and robots, elucidate the types, detail the current uses of robots in healthcare, including ongoing research, and consider some philosophical issues regarding the presence of robots in healthcare. 

What is A Robot?

Most of us have more of a sense of what a robot is rather than an ability to define it. The oft quoted saying by Justice Potter Stewart’s law clerk, Alan Novak, about pornography, “Mr. Justice, You Will Know It When You See It”, might apply here.

The International Federation of Robots (IFR) organizes them into two main categories, industrial and service robots. The IRF defines industrial robots, our first robots as,

“an automatically controlled, reprogrammable, multipurpose manipulator programmable in three or more axes, which may be either fixed in place or mobile for use in industrial automation applications.”  (What Is A Robot, Anyway?)

One of the most commonly known industrial robots, today, are those used in automobile production lines.

Robot Integration-Auto.jpg

Automated Production Line – Toyota

Recently, service robots are gaining popularity. Service robots, as defined by the IFR are autonomous machines that complete tasks outside industrial applications. Such robots, therefore, are found in personal and professional settings and include, a telepresence robot at work, a robot in the operating room, a therapeutic empathic robot in a nursing home, a robot vacuum cleaner in our homes, and, a robot exploring the bottom of the ocean, as examples.

However, the discussion of what defines a robot does not end there. How “autonomous” does the robot have to be, and might it, somehow, seem “robotic” but not actually be autonomous?

For a nuanced, more in depth consideration of these, and other questions, I recommend the excellent piece in The Atlantic by Adrienne LaFrance, “What Is A Robot?”. In it, she references the excellent podcast of Jason Snell and John Siracusa, “Robot or Not”. 

“The technology writers Jason Snell and John Siracusa have an entire podcast devoted to this idea. In their show, “Robot or Not?” 

 Siracusa and Snell have made dozens of determinations, some with more robust explanations than others: Drones are not robots, Siri is not a robot, telepresence “robots” are not robots. But Roomba, the saucer-shaped vacuum cleaner, is one. It meets the minimum standard for robotishness, they say, because you can turn it on and it does a job without further direction. (Maybe that’s part of why, as Kress-Gazit put it, “people get very attached to their roombas.”) The exercise of debating what objects can accurately be called robots is delightful, but what Siracusa and Snell are really arguing about is the fundamental question at the heart of human-machine relations: Who is actually in control? (What is a robot? – The Atlantic) 

Autonomy, agency of the robot, separate from human control (human interaction/intervention), is important to the design, operation, function, application, and, acceptance of all robots. For service robots, the degree of autonomy, operation separate from human-robot interaction (HRI) is central.

“In HRI, there are two schools of thought in conceptualizing autonomy: (1) higher robot autonomy requires less frequent interaction; and (2) higher robot autonomy requires higher levels or more sophisticated forms of interaction. “ -Toward a Framework for Levels of Robot Autonomy in Human-Robot Interaction

The Department of Defense (DoD),a leader in robotics research, uses the first type of categorization with four levels of autonomy. The higher the level of autonomy, the less frequent human interaction is required.

Robots-DoD-Levels of Autonomy

Today, it is common to call the latest programmable machine, regardless of level of autonomy, a robot. The term is used, commonly, because the machine has some degree of automation, or replaces/assists a human function. However, for traditional roboticists, a true robot is completely autonomous after being “powered on”, meaning that agency and control is in the “hands” of the robot. For the purposes of this paper, I will use the broader definition of robot: a robot is a programmable machine. Robot examples from a wide range across the spectrum of autonomy will be considered. 

A Brief History of Robots

The invention of robotic devices goes back to ancient times. These earliest machines, engineered “to do work”, operated by the principles of physics, rather than through computer codes that are utilized today. The Flying Pigeon, The String-Code Cart Robot and Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mechanical Lion and Knight are examples from the ancient and modern past.

The “Flying Pigeon”, a steam powered device, crafted by the Greek mathematician Archytas, around 400 BCE, is considered the first robot. Built of wood, it was called the Flying Pigeon because its structure resembled a bird in flight.

Robot-steam powered flying pigeon

The Flying Pigeon

Heron of Alexandria (10-70 CE) designed a system of timed weights and pulleys to “program” a wooden three-wheeled cart. The power of the machine was provided by strings, and thus, this mechanical cart is dubbed “the string-code” machine.


The String-Code Machine

Leonardo Da Vinci, the gifted artist (1452-1519) was most known for his anatomically accurate and stunning art, especially his black and white sketches and elaborate oil paintings. Less commonly known is that Da Vinci was a maker of robots, as well! Pictured below are his mechanical lion and knight.

DaVinci exhibit-Ruby Washington Image via NYTimes

The Leonardo Da Vinci Robots

A description of the workings of the robot knight follows:

Robotic Knight consisted of a knight suit filled with gears and wheels that were connected to an elaborate pulley and cable system. Through these mechanisms, da Vinci’s robotic knight was capable of independent motion – sitting down, standing up, moving its head and lifting its visor.

The earliest “humanoid” robot was “Eric Robot” exhibited at the Royal Horicultural Hall in London in 1928. Eric was constructed of steel, and utilized system of belts and pulleys, powered by batteries. Eric could “pretend speak” (through remote human) and stand when an operator pushed the electric buttons near his feet.

Berlin, Roboter mit seinem Erfinder

Eric Robot the Humanoid Robot (Photographed: 1928) – The Atlantic

Types of Robots

There are a number of ways to categorize robots; form/design, motion, application, or degree of agency of the robot. Given the explosion of robots and robotic devices, I find it helpful to categorize them according to application.

The largest “production” applications of robots are industrial, military, medical and service. Examples of robots in these categories, respectively, include robots on automobile assembly lines, military drones, the Da Vinci surgical robot, and service robots in hotels and hospitals.


Baxter – the industrial robot from Rethink Robotics

The other categories are domestic or household, entertainment, space, and hobby or competition. Robots in these categories would include, robot vacuums, robotic toys, Elon Musk’s “Space X” mission, and the countless small robots made in high schools, for school projects or for competition.

Most of the robots in the above categories fall on the following continuum of design and sophistication:

Robots-gradations of sophistication

Robot Design

Robots are constructed in a wide variety of shapes and forms, according to their application and primary functions. The forms range from small industrial, to large, more sophisticated machines such as those used in service industries. Some robots are made to excel in human interaction and crafted to have stunning likeness to live human beings. These “ultra-humanoid robots” are a particular expertise of a group of engineers in Japan.

Robot Very-human-like-gaze-shift

For many service robots, their form need not be “ultra-humanoid”, but should be crafted by engineers who are psychologically attuned to human emotions. Shape and height of these machines, as well as other features, such as “eyes”, are considerations when drafting a robot’s form. The video below is an interesting window into this process. This four minute video about Savioke and robot design is enlightening.

How Savioke Labs Built A Robot Personality in 5 Days

Robots in Medicine and Healthcare


Robots have broad application in healthcare. Such robots include roving machines mounted with ipads to provide physician tele-presence, surgical assistance robots such as the Da Vinci system, drones for delivery of emergency or other medical equipment, assistive and therapeutic robotic devices used to increase the individual’s capability or rehabilitate, empathic robots used in the care of the older or physically/mentally limited individual, and industrial robots such as those used to sterilize patient rooms or for supply delivery. Other robots are in research and development stage now and still other applications of robotics in healthcare are being considered for the future. The world of service robots is in its infancy. 

Robotic Tele-presence –Robotic Telemedicine

“Dr. Robot”

Physician use of tele-presence via roving robots is proving invaluable in emergency rooms, and rural and small hospitals throughout the U.S. Specialists can be “on call”, via the robot, to answer questions and guide therapy from remote locations.

 The images below show “Dr. Robot” and its parking station in the emergency room of the Lompoc Valley Medical Center. The telepresence robot, Dr. Robot, is a device used to enable a remote neurologist to provide specialty care for acute stroke patients in the emergency room(ER). The key features of this robotic device include navigation capability within the ER, and sophisticated cameras for the examination.

On admission to the ER, “Dr. Robot” is “deployed” to the patient’s room and one of 12 remotely located on-call neurologists provide consultation. A description of the process is as follows:

“(The on-call) neurologist is then able to log in to the robot’s display through an encrypted connection and review the initial scans and examine the patient through a system of specialized cameras. The equipment within the robot allows the on-call neurologist to zoom in to check the patient’s pupils and read data on equipment near the patient’s bed.The neurologist can also engage in conversation with the patient and doctors and nurses in the room. Because some crucial medications can be especially dangerous under certain circumstances, Reichel said it is nice having a specialist essentially in the room to provide an instantaneous second opinion, which becomes part of that patient’s medical record.”

-Dr. Robot helps expand medical care

Telepresence robots are non-autonomous robots. The agency is held by the physicians in the emergency room, and the primary work performed is shared by them and the remote consult. These type of robots are programmable machines, constructed to facilitate remote communication, and optimal, timely, patient treatment.

InTouch Health and iRobot’s RP-VITA

Additionally, we are seeing robotic tele-presence for patient care by health systems wishing to provide more in-hospital telemedicine and support to patients. Such an example is the “In Touch Health” partnership with “iRobot”.

In Touch Health is a telehealth and telemedicine company, offering an array of telehealth services to hospitals, individual clinicians, and patients. iRobot is a large company which builds an array of robots, the most well known of which is the autonomous floor cleaning robot “Roomba”. Their most recent collaboration is the RP-VITA robot.

Robot-iRobot & InTouch

Left image: iRobot’s “RP-VITA” robot with a patient, showing information.

Right image: The patient is examined while the physician observes via tele-presence via RP-VITA

The difference between this type of robot and the “Dr.Robot” described above is that the “RP-VITA” has some autonomous capability. Those capabilities reside in the sophisticated navigational tools, cameras and the treatment-related code written in. RP-VITA alerts medical care individuals or teams according to information received by the machine during an “examination” of the patient.

The iRobot /In Touch Health collaboration supports the functions of RP-VITA: a sophisticated, traveling, machine that collects patient data, and then disseminates it to designated healthcare professionals. Should urgent responses be required, RP-VITA will send out messages in the form of alerts. The robot can present instructional videos, and discharge information to patients, among other things on its screen. The iRobot is not “magic”; it only works as well as the capability of the professional staff that underpins it, and the quality of the healthcare algorithms it contains.

Robotic Surgical Assistants

Remote controlled, so-called robotic surgical assistants, are a form of non-autonomous telepresence, which allow surgeons in general surgery, and sub-specialty surgery, to perform procedures from a remote location. All robotically controlled surgery is minimally invasive, needing only five to six, dime-sized incisions.

The ability to manipulate a highly sophisticated robotic arm by operating controls, seated at a workstation out of the operating room, is the hallmark of surgical robots. Usually, the surgeon-operator is in a nearby room, however, these machines may be utilized from hundreds, even thousands, of miles away. The end of the robotic “arm” is equipped with a tiny surgical instrument. The “wrists” of the arms have articulated movement, which mimics the motion of the human wrist, but with even greater flexibility.


Robotic Surgery – Da Vinci System

The end of the robotic arm contains surgical instruments. It is crafted to mimic “human-like” wrist motion. – Da Vinci System

Robotic assisted surgical systems have been used extensively in urology for prostate surgery, and, less commonly, in general surgery and most surgical subspecialties. Additional applications for these surgical-assist robots are continually being developed, the latest for ophthalmic/eye surgery.

While not universally used, surgical robots have, nonetheless, made a significant impact on healthcare delivery. The advantages of robotic surgery include a more controlled, controllable, and thus, potentially safer environment for both the patient and physician, increased precision of surgical manipulation, improved vision due to magnification, and better ergonomics for the operator. Due to the minimally invasive nature of the surgery, hospital stays for patients having undergone robotic surgery are also shorter. Robotic surgery has an advantage over laparoscopic surgery, the other form of minimally invasive surgery, due to the aforementioned degree of motion of the robot “arm” and “wrist”. There is untapped potential for simulation of surgical procedures and techniques using surgical robotic systems. Finally, the global application/potential of these systems is just beginning to be imagined.

Robotic surgery

The disadvantages of robotic surgery are the degree of training required, and the cost, especially since patient outcomes are, overall, similar to traditional surgery. Surgeons have some difficulty adjusting to the lack of tactile input from operating with these machines.

The following video provides a glimpse into the precision of the manipulation of the “arms” of the robot. Robot arms have easily detachable, tiny, surgical instruments, measuring 5mm to 8mm, mounted at the arm tip.

Da Vinci Surgical System – Video: peeling a grape

A variant of the surgical-assist robot is the vascular-assist robot, for use by interventional radiologists and interventional cardiologists. Advantages of these systems include, broadly, control of the patient and physician environment. In being remotely located, the physician-operator is shielded from the radiation hazards of the procedure. The guide wires can be well controlled via arm stabilization and contrast dose amounts precisely calibrated. Again, as with the surgical systems, simulation and procedural training are potential applications.

Physician Surrogate

The “Sedasys” System – Anesthesia

“Sedasys”, a robotic machine to deliver anesthesia without an anesthesiologist has been developed for use in clinical settings for short, routine procedures such as colonoscopy and endoscopy. The rollout, by Johnson and Johnson, has been slow and the system is only used in four medical centers at this time, as the acceptance rate has been low due to fears regarding completely autonomous medical care .


Nanoparticles are still an emerging field of science. They are garnering significant research attention because of their potential use as in treating diseases such as infection, cancer, Type 1 diabetes, and in over-coming the difficult “blood-brain barrier”. Since the microscopic size of nanoparticles is dwarfed by the components of blood, they require “power” to reach their target. Treatment “payloads” can then be loaded in the Nanorobot which through a variety of creative mechanisms can be automatically guided to the correct target site.

Nanotechnology "Pill Bot"

Visualization of drug-delivery nanobot.

Robots and Disability

The use of robots, to aid humans with disability to function more optimally, is becoming more common. These machines are designed to empower such individuals and lessen their deficits, be they mental, physical or emotional. By their “assistive” nature, they are intentionally constructed to work with the particular needs of the individual, and thus, vary in the degree of autonomy. The greater the deficit, the more autonomously these robotic devices operate. Some of these assistive devices are hoped to have the additional benefit of rehabilitation.

There are innumerable examples of robotic inventions for those with disabilities. Described below are devices for eating assistance, ambulation, grasp-assist and a robot-avatar.

It is worth noting that the potential contribution of robotics to the field of disability-assistance is still being explored. We can fully expect an explosion of such devices as populations age, and those with chronic disability increase in number, live longer, and desire a higher quality of life.

Bestic, the assistive eating robotic device was developed in 2004 by Sten Hemmingsson who had suffered a crippling paralysis from polio. The device is designed to lift food from the plate to the mouth, and is controllable of the user by touch of a button. Dining independently, without assistance, is a cherished ability. Disabilities can rob us of that dignity; assistive devices such as the Bestic device restores that independence.


Musculoskeletal and Muscular Assistive Devices

 Robot Suits and Exoskeletons

There were at least 12 exoskeletons commercially available in 2015.

12 Commercial Exoskeletons In 2015

These exoskeleton devices can be separated by type and function/application. There are mobile rehabilitation exoskeletons, fixed rehabilitation exoskeletons, powered commercial exoskeletons and passive exoskeletons.


ReWalk” by ReWalk Robotics is a mobile lower body exoskeleton for walking assist and/or walking rehabilitation, and potentially a replacement to the wheel chair. It is the only such exoskeleton currently approved for home use by the FDA.


Ekso Bionics engineers have worked on both active and passive exoskeletons, and suits for both disabled and able-bodied users. The exciting game-changer of the Ekso skeleton is that it may allow formerly wheelchair-bound users, the ability to walk.


Cyberdyne (Japan) is the creator/maker of the famed HAL robot suit which can be worn as a full body suit or a lower body suit. It is utilized now in Japan for rehabilitation purposes, for generalized and specific muscular assist after injury, and for normal persons who are in occupations where increased strength is paramount. The HAL robot suit is called a “bionic” suit as it multiplies the wearer’s strength by a factor of 2-10.

Robot-Cyberdyne's-suit-HAL5 Type B

Grasp-assist for the hand

For the survivors of stroke who suffer from partial or complete paralysis and for many who have chronic neuro-muscular or musculoskeletal diseases such as muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and incomplete spinal cord injury, impairment of hand function is hugely impactful. Inability to grasp and hold objects severely limits optimal daily functioning. For these people, assistance with hand-grasp function, and potentially some rehabilitation, is a game-changer.

A soft, robotic, grasp assist glove is being developed at Harvard and now, several prototypes have been made. The glove has soft, multi-segment actuators composed of Kevlar and silicone elastomer distributed throughout the fingers and thumb. The actuators are designed to assist the attempted movements of the hand, by utilizing the input of the individual over time. It is hoped that these gloves can help individuals regain some hand function both in their daily lives and in rehabilitation. The glove has a lightweight remote control and power source.

Robot-Soft, robotic glove

Soft robotic grasp-assist glove

The video below shows a patient working with the glove.

Soft Robotic Glove

Personal Care-giving of the Elderly, Others

The largest group of those with caregiving needs is the aging population, which is rapidly expanding throughout the world. The oldest populations are seen in Japan, and Europe, but other, “newer” nations, such as the U.S., are rapidly catching up.


There may be no topic in robotics that generates more conversation, interest, and occasionally, controversy, than the use of caregiving robots. Likely, this is because the intimacy normally associated with caregiving does not conjure up robotic-type care. However, nations such as Japan, facing a dire labor shortage of caregivers, are thankful to able to consider capable robots as a caregiving solution, and especially, an alternative to the loneliness in aging.

Currently, robots such as Pepper, Robear and NAO/ZORA are undergoing further development in the hopes that they might be practical, useful, acceptable, and safe, caregiving robots. Pepper, brings engaging human to robot interaction, NAO/ZORA is smaller, and highly mobile with elements of engagement, and Robear has the strength to lift people who have mobility issues. All of these robots are undergoing improvements, and updated iterations continue to be released. Robear is still in a research and development phase, and not in public use.

Pepper is a four foot humanoid robot, produced by Softbank, that has the power to read and respond to human emotions.


Pepper the Robot captures a “selfie” with a friend

Pepper is an extremely engaging robot; its easy to see why it has been so enthusiastically welcomed. Pepper sold out in Japan in the first minute of going on the market on June 20, 2015. It is hoped that Pepper’s skills in robot to human interaction might improve the mental engagement and monitoring of humans, across the range of mental and emotional needs. 

ZORA’s Nao family of robots – “Nao”, “Zora”  

These robots are characterized by their small size, less than two feet tall, their impressive mobility, and remarkable appeal, likely due to their physical agility and pleasant personality. “Zora”, the latest in the family has been utilized in a variety of therapeutic settings. The Nao robot has been successfully deployed in retirement homes to lead exercise and movement programs, to provide companionship to older individuals who might be lonely, and to answer the many routine questions of the residents.


Robear is a large, plastic robot being developed in Japan for the purposes of caregiving, specifically those needs which revolve around mobility. Robear continues to be in clinical testing but has promise in lifting and transferring patients, which is a particularly needed caregiving function.

Assist Devices for Mobility Impaired  

The Panasonic corporation has an active interest in developing solutions for the mobility impaired. Panasonic’s “Resyone” is a bed to wheelchair converter. It is also testing a self support robotic device.

The DAli Walker – or c-walker

The technologically enhanced walker is a current project of the European Union and the Seimans Corporation. The DAli walker is a programmable walker with multiple digital sensing devices for use in individuals with memory loss, dementia. The sensor system allows the walker to perceive and interpret its spatial environment in real time. By its navigational capabilities, this technologically advanced walker is mentally functioning for as well as affording physical support. This potent combination of both physical and mental assistance is potentially invaluable to an elderly person, who may have become timid about venturing out alone, especially in crowded or unfamiliar public places.

Walker-DAli project-c-walker

Personal Avatars  

Smart, engaging, personal avatar-robots have the potential to alter a person’s life in a remarkable way. Paralysis robs people of the ability of personal expression through body language. A personal robot-avatar can supply the movement and thus the desired expression, on behalf of the individual.


OriHime, a robot avatar, with its user

Industrial robots in healthcare

Sterilization Robot – Xenex

Hospital acquired infections (HAIs) occur in 1 in every 25 hospitalized patients, and, of those, 1 of 9 will die. The most notorious killer infections are MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and C.diff (Clostridium difficile).

-Statistics from ECRI institute

The Xenex robot is robotic device that uses a mounted Xenon flashlamp to generate a germ killing ultra violet light that damages the DNA of organism. It works quickly, generally taking five minutes to treat one side of a room. Note that surfaces must be cleansed prior to sterilization and mattresses flipped, among other requirements. No one may be in the room while the device is operational.

The Xenex robot is currently employed in 300 hospitals in the U.S. At a cost of $104,000.00, the device seems to be a bargain, considering the staggering statistics regarding HAIs.

Robot-Xenex-CBS news

Xenex germicidal robot

Hospital Service Robots

 Tug, other automatic guided vehicles (AGVs)

 Service robots such as Tug and other AGVs are utilized in hospitals to transfer and deliver supplies, pharmaceuticals, patient food trays, and even trash throughout the hospital. Countless hours of repetitive labor are handled by these devices.


Robots and robotics have entered the healthcare arena in a dramatic manner. Countless needs are being addressed in new and different ways, and sometimes, for the first time! Robots, already, have wide-ranging healthcare applications within surgery, ambulation in the disabled, hospital operations, neuro-muscular rehabilitation, and emotional care and aging care, to name a few. Robust, exciting research of new applications of robotics in healthcare is thriving.

As robots take care of our more intimate needs, such as personal caregiving, human to robot and robot to human interactions will become a central focus of study and philosophical discussion. There is much unknown regarding the ultimate acceptability of robots in intimate settings, or at work. Comfort with robots may depend on multiple variables, such as the individual, culture, particular application, or industry. Trust is at the core of the use of autonomous robots in healthcare, and safety must be proven.

Once the qualifications of optimal design, answered needs, safety, and trust are met, “the sky is the limit” for robots and robotics in health!


P.S. From the author

I have not covered the significant and fascinating topic of human to robot interaction in this piece. There is also the amazing consideration of the range of robot to human response possible, given that machine learning is being incorporated (encoded) into the function of robots. Hoping to cover in a separate piece in the not too distant future.


The History of Robots

“The Flying Pigeon” – Archytas (400-450 BCE)


Archytas’ steam-powered Flying Pigeon was a highly advanced invention for his time. It was called the Flying Pigeon because its structure resembled a bird in flight. It was built of wood, and was one of the first studies into how birds fly.

The lightweight body of the Flying Pigeon was hollow with a cylindrical shape, with wings projected out to either side, and smaller wings to the rear. The front of the object was pointed, like a bird’s beak. The shape of the structure was very aerodynamic, for maximum flying distance and speed. The rear of the Flying Pigeon had an opening that led to the internal bladder. This opening was connected to a heated, airtight boiler. As the boiler created more and more steam, the pressure of the steam eventually exceeded the mechanical resistance of the connection, and the Flying Pigeon took flight. The flight continued for several hundred meters. The Flying Pigeon is sometimes referred to as the first robot.

From: The steam-powered pigeon of Archytas – the flying machine of antiquity.

The “String Code” Robot – Heron of Alexandria (10-70 CE) New Scientist Creates A Robot Made by the Ancient Greeks

5 Advanced Ancient Technologies That Shouldn’t Be Possible

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Inventions

Leonardo da Vinci Inventions

Leonardo Da Vinci @ScienceMuseum uncovers a mechanical genius with a child’s eye


General -compilation

The Most Awesome Robots Ever – 37 minute video

“Coping With Humansa support group for Bots (extended version)

Humanoid Robot Videos

Japanese Humanoid Robot

A very human life robot invented by Japanese Engineers

“Nadine” from Singapore

Emotionally Intelligent Robot Comes To Life 7 March 2016


Meet Pepper, the Friendly Humanoid Robot

Buddy – The Robot

BUDDY : Your Family’s Companion Robot – Multi-language (EN / FR/ DE/ JP/ CN)

Honda’s Asimo: the penalty-taking, bar-tending robot


Bestic- The Assistive Eating Robot

The Story Behind Bestic – Meet Sten Hemmingsson

Bestic — Instructions

 Robots for mental and emotional needs and for companionship

“Buddy” – the family companion robot

“Buddy” is a social robot that has the ability to connect, protect, and interact with each member of the family. The social connecting of a“Buddy” system gives grandparents, and other family members, who may live far away, the ability to connect with events that they cannot be a part of through real time communication: videos and pictures. “Buddy” has been used to help children with autism spectrum disorder and other special needs, to improve their communication skills and other interactions with others.



Replacement Pet/ Companion Robots

Robot pets may be satisfactory pet-alternatives for people with allergies and immunodeficiences. They have been found to be useful to the elderly for companionship and emotional comfort. “Paro”, the baby harp seal has been the most researched and evaluated pet robot. Paro is an advanced interactive robot from Japan with multiple sensors, as well as machine learning capability. It learns preferred actions and response for each particular user and thus is able to be particularly engaging.

In studies in environments such as hospitals and nursing homes, it has the same positive therapeutic effects of live animals. Because of these demonstrated positive psychological, physiological and social effects, the U.S. formalized it as a Class 2 medical device in 2009, and, as such, sells for a whopping $6,000.00!


Paro with an older Japanese woman

Professionals in the geriatrics community have raised ethical questions regarding the use of stuffed animals as emotional care, instead of human interaction and and comfort. Given the caregiving shortage that many nations are facing, if emotional comfort can be found in a stuffed animal, we may have to, reluctantly, resort to that. The jury is still out on this!

Cute Baby Seal Robot (Pet)- PARO Theraputic Robot #DigInfo

Paro Robotic Seal from Japan

Hasbro’s Robo-Cat

Hasbro, the toy company, has released a “Robo-cat” which some may find useful. Robo-cat, in its status as a toy, is inexpensive compared to Paro. It is constructed with multiple sensors embedded in its fur, and thus, is able to respond to petting. It can also meow/purr, turn over, close its eyes, lick its paw, and, jerk its head.


I tried the $99 robot cat, Hasbro’s solution for lonely grandparents, and it was strangely comforting

Drones -Delivery of Emergency Care

 Drones are, in essence, flying robots. They have acquired a negative connation through their use in warfare. However, drones can be used for good, too. A drone’s ability to deliver health-related supplies in a timely, reliable manner has been utilized infrequently in the U.S. but is invaluable in nations with suboptimal transportation infrastructure. Drones are strictly regulated in the U.S. and thus not widely utilized (yet) but in nations such as Rawanda, drones are seen as a superb solution to delivery barriers for a wide variety of needs, including healthcare.

Recently, an initiative was launched in Rwanda to create a drone aircraft supply system for blood transfusion and emergency medicine supplies to the underserved western part of the nation. Fifteen Zipline drones will be utilized, such as the one pictured below. Such a system has the benefits of relative speed, reliability, and a temperature-controlled environment. The latter feature is essential for preservation of blood products and vaccines.


Zipline’s Fixed Wing Drone

The Robotic Horse

Robotic Horse to Help with Autism, Arthritis, Cerebral Palsy

Thousand Robot Swarm

Programmable self-assembly in a thousand-robot swarm

3D Printing of Robots

MIT Building Solid/Liquid Robots with 3D Printer

Building robots out of liquid may streamline manufacturing


Robots – Defined

What Is A Robot?

Defining Robots and Robotics

Robot or Not – podcast

All On Robots

First Click: Can we please stop calling every programmable machine a robot?

Toward a Framework for Levels of Robot Autonomy in Human-Robot Interaction

Towards A Framework for Human-Robot Interaction

 Autonomous Technology / Robots

History of Robots, Robotics

 The steam-powered pigeon of Archytas – the flying machine of antiquity.

The “String Code” Robot – Heron of Alexandria (10-70 CE)

New Scientist Creates A Robot Made by the Ancient Greeks

Leonardo da Vinci Inventions-Da Vinci’s Robotic Knight

Flights of Mind, Brought to Life –

Leonardo Da Vinci @ScienceMuseum uncovers a mechanical genius with a child’s eye

The Origins of Justice Stewart’s “I Know It When I See It”

Types of Robots

 Types of Robots

 Robot Design – non humanoid, humanoid


 How Savioke Labs Built A Robot Personality in 5 Days

Programmable self-assembly in a thousand-robot swarm

Robot co-active learning adjusts to context-driven user preferences

 Gestures improve communication – even with robots

Should robots be gendered?

Interactive robot Jia Jia astonishingly like human

 Medical Applications of Robotics


Medical Robots

Robots in Hospitals

Robotic Therapy 

  1. A) Remote presence – “Tele-Presence”

Dr. Robot helps expand medical care

In Touch Health

In Touch Health- website

RP-VITA: New Robot from iRobot and InTouch Health

VGo Getting A Lot of Press This Week

Robotic Telepresence 2014 State of the Industry

Ill have my robots talk to your robots

B.) Robotic Assistants for Surgeons and Interventional Physicians

Surgery: The Da Vinci Robot Surgical System

Robotic Surgery

Robots invade the operating room

The surgeon who operates from 400 km away

 All About Robotic Surgery

Robotic-Assisted Surgery

Interventional Vascular Procedures (in Radiology and Cardiology)

Robotic-assisted Interventional Radiology

Reducing Physician Radiation Dose with Robotics

C.) Physician “Replacements”

-The “Sedasys” System – Anesthesia

New machine could one day replace anesthesiologists

J&J’s anesthesia-bot loses against its human counterparts

The company is pulling the device from the market over poor sales.

Robots in Healthcare Could Lead to A Doctorless Hospital

D.) Disability applications – Assist Devices

Bestic – The Assistive Eating Device

The Story Behind Bestic – Meet Sten Hemmingsson

Bestic — Instructions

Tech-enhanced walker

The Dali Project 

DALI: Robot Walker (the c-walker) for Elderly People in Public Spaces

Problems finding your way around may be earliest sign of Alzheimer’s disease

Soft robotic glove puts control in the grasp of hand-impaired patients

Soft Robotic Glove

Soft Robotics

Panasonic’s Robotic Technology Helps Deliver “A Better Life” to the World of Welfare

Panasonic assist robots will do the heavy lifting for you (video and article)

Robotic Exoskeleton Cleared For Stroke Rehab, Spinal Cord Injuries

12 Commercial Exoskeletons In 2015

Cyberdyne’s robot suit HAL to keep people walking

 Robotic Horse to Help with Autism, Arthritis, Cerebral Palsy

 Assistive Robots by Dave Jaffe

E.) Aging, and General Caregiving, Therapeutic, empathic and emotional care

Why Robots Are the Future of Elder Care

Japan is running out of people to take care of the elderly, so it’s making robots instead

My Adventure with Aldebaran: Project Zora by QBMT

The Aldebaran Website (robot makers)

This cuddly Japanese robot bear could be the future of elderly care

Japan’s long-term care dilemma: Immigrants or robots?

Robots that may help you in your silver age

Exercise coach-

Singapore’s robot exercise coach for the elderly

Europe Bets On Robots To Help Care for Seniors

Softbanks Humanoid Robot Will Be Great For Tending to Japan’s Elderly

Asimo, The Humanoid Robot

What is Pepper and Why do I need a personal robot

Meet Pepper, the Friendly Humanoid Robot

Paro – the baby seal therapeutic robot

Paro with an elderly woman

 Paro – the baby seal therapeutic robot

It’s Not a Stuffed Animal, It’s a $6,000 Medical Device

1,000 Buddy Companion Robots Available for Pre-order

BUDDY : Your Family’s Companion Robot – Multi-language (EN / FR/ DE/ JP/ CN)

Humanoid robots help kids with autism (Video)

This Little Robot Acts As A Real Life Avatar for Humans

 Avatars and Robots Could Help Treat Social Disorders (Video) 

  1. F) Industrial Robots- applications in healthcare 

The Xenex website

Germ zapping robot combats hospital infections

Tug robots

G.) Drones for Health

The good drones: air delivery of blood samples could save lives

Drones: a history of flying robots

Drones Marshaled to Drop Lifesaving Supplies Over Rwandan Terrain

H.) Current research – examples

Nanorobots wade through blood to deliver drugs

Medical Nanobots

Future Visions: Nanobots

Building robots out of liquid may streamline manufacturing

3D printed robots-Printable Hydraulic Robots

 Panasonic’s Robotic Technology Helps Deliver “A Better Life” to the World of Welfare

Panasonic assist robots will do the heavy lifting for you (video and article)

Robot Purchasing

Professional and Service Robots

Millenia Interactive Mobile Promotion PR Robot


Ford, Martin. Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future Basic Books New York 2015



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