Milton Keynes University Hospital (MKUH) has announced a collaboration with Academy of Robotics, a British artificial intelligence (AI) company, to develop and trial a delivery robot to speed up hospital processes.
The trial began in late November and saw the bot navigate itself between two locations within the hospital, with trials continuing into this year.
Some of the key focuses of the pilot include tackling challenges with delays to care caused by increased logistical demands, including the movement of medicines, specimens and clinical supplies.
The device was reportedly developed over the course of a year in collaboration with hospital staff through a series of online engagements and in-person design workshops.
Academy of Robotics claims to have been one of the first organisations to deploy self-driving vehicles on UK roads with its electric autonomous vehicle, Kar-go, which was previously used for medical deliveries during the pandemic.
The AI firm further developed this vehicle’s systems to produce the helper bot, especially focusing on its self-driving functions help the device navigate around obstacles inside the hospital.
The bot will be used to test how similar robots can be used to collect non-controlled medication and deliver these securely to ward staff.
What’s more, MKUH has already introduced a number of new processes and automations, including the implementation of a surgical robot for colorectal, gynaecology and general surgeries, as well as integrating AI technology for imaging applications.
Professor Joe Harrison, chief executive at Milton Keynes University Hospital explains: “Across the hospital, our pharmacy team does an incredible job to ensure that our patients receive the medication they need to return home in a timely manner.
“We are working with the Academy of Robotics team to introduce new technology that can work alongside our existing workforce to facilitate faster delivery and take some of the pressure off our teams.
“This trial is an opportunity to test the safety and efficacy of this technology and we will continue to work closely with all teams involved to understand how it can be most effectively utilised in the future.”
MKUH has said that data and feedback from the trial will be used to understand how this technology can be safely scaled for potential use in other NHS sites.