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. Receptionist And Porter Robots Make Debut At Japanese Hospital

An elderly patient on a wheel chair shakes hands a guide at the waiting lounge of the Aizu Central Hospital in Aizu-Wakamatsu city in Fukushima prefecture, some 200km north of Tokyo 28 October 2006. Photo courtesy of and AFP.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Nov 4, 2006
Robots have made their debut at a Japanese hospital where an android receptionist and two porters now work alongside their human counterparts. Aizu Central Hospital in Aizu-Wakamatsu some 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of Tokyo introduced the trio on October 28 at a cost of 60 million yen (508,000 dollars). The receptionist robot, produced by Japanese robot maker Tmsuk Co. Ltd., welcomes visitors at the entrance and answers spoken inquiries.

The two porter robots, which can move around on two wheels at a maximum speed of 1.5 kilometers per hour (about one mph), can carry luggage and take visitors and patients to their destinations.

The 1.3 meter (four-foot four-inch) high white-and-green robotic porters can also alert people to obstacles with their sensors.

"They are the nation's first receptionist and porter robots actually working in a hospital, and people's reactions to them are quite positive," hospital official Naoya Narita said.

"By introducing them, we want to show the scene of a future hospital, where robots are getting along with patients and visitors," Narita said, adding that the hospital is considering introducing another robot next year.

Japan leads the world's robotic industries in fields ranging from manufacturing to entertainment and security. Last year, Japanese companies unveiled a horde of prototype androids at the World Expo in central Japan.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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