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Panasonic's Hospi-Rimo robot tends to patients

Medical telepresence bot is designed to help patients communicate with distant loved ones. Panasonic also upgrades its robot bed and hair-washer.


Robots are playing increasingly important roles in surgery, but what about post-op care? Panasonic has developed a robot with telepresence functions can help bedridden patients communicate with loved ones, and upgraded its robot bed and hair-washer.

Hospi-Rimo is a communications robot aimed at helping patients chat with their doctors when they're not around--or talk with distant friends and family.

Based on the electronics giant's Hospi drug-delivery bot, Hospi-Rimo can be remote-controlled or move around autonomously. It can automatically move to specified locations, avoiding obstacles en route.

The machine has a large screen (naturally with a happy face) and sensors to learn about its environment. Panasonic says it could be used in hospitals (like its precursor Hospi) or residences where elderly people live alone.

The company's hair-washing robot, introduced last year, has 24 fingers and provides bubble and hand washes. Improvements include refined head-scanning to provide custom washing, conditioning, and drying functions, and user-set spot massages.

Announced in 2009and then commercialized, the RoboticBed is basically an electric wheelchair that morphs into a fully adjustable bed. It now has a power-assist tilt function to prevent slippage during long periods of sitting, as well as a simplified control interface.

The latest prototypes of the three robots will be shown off at the International Home Care & Rehabilitation Exhibition (HCR) 2011 next month in Tokyo.