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Developing robots for the hospital emergency room
Date:12/7/2010

Are you ready for robots in the ER?

A group of computer engineers at Vanderbilt University is convinced that the basic technology is now available to create robot assistants that can perform effectively in the often-chaotic environment of the emergency room. The specialists in emergency medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center are enthusiastic about the potential advantages. So, the two groups have formed an interdisciplinary team to explore the use of robotics in this critical and challenging setting.

Team member Mitch Wilkes, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, presented an overview of the group's thinking on Monday, Dec. 6, in a paper titled, "Heterogeneous Artificial Agents for Triage Nurse Assistance," at the Humanoids 2010 conference held in Nashville.

The paper proposes a system of cognitive robots that gather medical information and take basic diagnostic measurements and ultimately provide tentative diagnoses to the human staff in order to address the critical concerns facing emergency departments in major hospitals: shortening the time that patients must wait, relieving the strain on overburdened emergency room staff and reducing the number of mistakes that are made,

"Advances in humanoid robotic design, in sensor technology and in cognitive control architectures now make such a system feasible," Wilkes said.

According to Senior Associate in Emergency Medicine Karen Miller, "When the engineers approached us with this idea, we were thrilled. We thought their ideas were really interesting and we like the idea of developing new and innovative ways of doing things."

These days about 40 percent of ER patients arrive with potentially life-threatening conditions, so they must be attended to immediately, Miller estimated. The robotic system, which they have dubbed TriageBot, is designed to handle more effectively the other 60 percent, who show up with less pressing problems.
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Contact: David F. Salisbury
david.salisbury@vanderbilt.edu
615-343-6803
Vanderbilt University
Source:Eurekalert

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