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Advancing Healthcare with Robotics: SPRING Project Achieves Breakthrough in Hospital Testing

Written by: Archie Williamson | Posted: 19-02-2024

Advancing Healthcare with Robotics: SPRING Project Achieves Breakthrough in Hospital Testing

This is an AI-generated image created with Midjourney by Molly-Anna MaQuirl  

Eight robots designed by PAL Robotics, known as ‘SPRING’, have passed the testing phase with patients, in a potential breakthrough for the future of AI in healthcare.

The robots have been trialed by university researchers in both Europe and the Middle East. They have been given the name 'SPRING' after their more formal title “Socially Assistive Robots in Gerontological Healthcare”. Their purpose is to try to ease the burden on nursing teams while keeping elderly patients comfortable and calm.

Oliver Lemon, Professor of AI and an academic co-lead at the National Robotarium, spoke about the breakthrough:

We believe that the SPRING project marks a significant milestone in the development of interactive robotics, and we are proud of its achievements while recognizing the exciting challenges that lie ahead.

During the tests, the robots carried out tasks that included greeting patients, giving them directions around the facilities, and answering their simple questions about treatment. The trials took place at Publique Hopitaux de Paris in France.

The robots were also able to follow simple group conversations, providing assistance based on what the patients asked, made possible by the tech that has dominated AI news in recent years: large language models like ChatGPT.

Healthcare of the Future

The use of robots may sound like it is something from a science fiction film, but the uses are practical, including reducing physical contact that healthcare workers have with their patients. This could help to stem the spread of infectious diseases, as well as assist staff.

 The SPRING project was started around four and half years ago and is funded by Horizon 2020, an innovative initiative by the European Union. Their website discusses the need for social robots and the skills they could offer: “To properly fulfil social roles and successfully execute social tasks, there is a crucial need for robots able to move, see, hear and communicate in complex and unstructured populated spaces.”

Robots have been tested in other spaces too, such as shopping malls and at public events. The robots can be programmed to have different uses, for instance, one of the tasks within the hospitals was to provide entertainment activities for persons who attend the hospital, such as those with long waits.

“The prospect of robots seamlessly collaborating with hospital staff to enhance the patient experience is now closer to reality.” Lemon summarized.

Based on the positive results of this recent testing phase, there’s a good chance it may not be long until we see these robotics become mainstream and be introduced into international hospital systems.

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Advancing Healthcare with Robotics: SPRING Project Achieves Breakthrough in Hospital Testing

Written by: Archie Williamson | Posted: 19-02-2024

Advancing Healthcare with Robotics: SPRING Project Achieves Breakthrough in Hospital Testing

This is an AI-generated image created with Midjourney by Molly-Anna MaQuirl  

Eight robots designed by PAL Robotics, known as ‘SPRING’, have passed the testing phase with patients, in a potential breakthrough for the future of AI in healthcare.

The robots have been trialed by university researchers in both Europe and the Middle East. They have been given the name 'SPRING' after their more formal title “Socially Assistive Robots in Gerontological Healthcare”. Their purpose is to try to ease the burden on nursing teams while keeping elderly patients comfortable and calm.

Oliver Lemon, Professor of AI and an academic co-lead at the National Robotarium, spoke about the breakthrough:

We believe that the SPRING project marks a significant milestone in the development of interactive robotics, and we are proud of its achievements while recognizing the exciting challenges that lie ahead.

During the tests, the robots carried out tasks that included greeting patients, giving them directions around the facilities, and answering their simple questions about treatment. The trials took place at Publique Hopitaux de Paris in France.

The robots were also able to follow simple group conversations, providing assistance based on what the patients asked, made possible by the tech that has dominated AI news in recent years: large language models like ChatGPT.

Healthcare of the Future

The use of robots may sound like it is something from a science fiction film, but the uses are practical, including reducing physical contact that healthcare workers have with their patients. This could help to stem the spread of infectious diseases, as well as assist staff.

 The SPRING project was started around four and half years ago and is funded by Horizon 2020, an innovative initiative by the European Union. Their website discusses the need for social robots and the skills they could offer: “To properly fulfil social roles and successfully execute social tasks, there is a crucial need for robots able to move, see, hear and communicate in complex and unstructured populated spaces.”

Robots have been tested in other spaces too, such as shopping malls and at public events. The robots can be programmed to have different uses, for instance, one of the tasks within the hospitals was to provide entertainment activities for persons who attend the hospital, such as those with long waits.

“The prospect of robots seamlessly collaborating with hospital staff to enhance the patient experience is now closer to reality.” Lemon summarized.

Based on the positive results of this recent testing phase, there’s a good chance it may not be long until we see these robotics become mainstream and be introduced into international hospital systems.