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Robots to maintain wards?

In just three years robots that can clean, tidy and look after patients could be a reality.

Researchers from the universities of Cardiff, Warwick and Newcastle are currently working in collaboration with scientists in France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Ireland and Turkey on an EU-funded project, IWARD, to develop such robots.

These robots would help to keep wards cleaner and cut infections, as well as perform a range of tasks for nurses, such as checking temperatures and blood pressure of patients. This would ease the burden on hospital staff so that they can spend more time with patients and combat hospital-associated infections such as MRSA more efficiently.

The robots would consist of a basic platform mounted with a module of sensors and equipment for different tasks. For example, a robot could be fitted with a laser thermometer to measure body heat from a distance or cleaning equipment to mop up spills. Eventually they would be equipped with different adaptable hardware components for floor cleaning and the delivery of food, linen and medicine.