The Hospital Robot With a Bedside Manner (video)
Not every robot needs to be a humanoid, but we tend to respond better when it is. Muratec, Keio University, and AIST have teamed up to develop the MKR-003, an autonomous delivery cart for hospitals. Unlike many other hospital robots, the MKR-003 has a face, arms, and a human like way of communicating. It can speak, make arm gestures, and comes with a LED message board on its front and a touchscreen on its back. It can move a 33kg (66 lb) cart for an hour before needing to be recharged. That's a meager performance compared to the Aethon TUG hospital cart bots we've seen before. Not only that, but the MKR-003 is still in development and being tested in a Kyoto hosptial while the TUG is already in facilities across the US. Yet we shouldn't dismiss the MKR-003 too quickly. It may have a long way to go to match the practical performance of other robotic cart systems, but it's personality is already top notch. Watch the MKR-003 show off its obstacle avoidance, omnidirectional movement, and docking skills in the videos below. I give it a 3 for utility, but an 8 for style.