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Where robots roam the hospital floor (pictures)

At UCSF Medical Center in San Francisco, a fleet of robots is lending a hand in medicine.

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James Martin
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1 of 10 James Martin/CNET

Autonomous assistance

Scheduled to open on February 1, 2015, the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center at Mission Bay will be a state-of-the-art children's, women's and cancer hospital.

Among the many cutting-edge facilities inside the hospital are surgical, diagnostic and analysis tools -- but there's something else here, too.

As doctors here stroll through the halls, they have to get used to a new kind of colleague on the floors: robots.

Aethon provides the TUG autonomous mobile robots, which help to automate a hospital’s internal logistics and supply processes, delivering food, medicine and other assistance to help nurses work better.

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2 of 10 James Martin/CNET

Logistics, supply

A hospital technician demonstrates use of the autonomous robots. The robots can be customized for different tasks, including carrying medicine, hauling waster, delivering food, and lab specimens.

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Plotting a course

After loading up the cargo, the robot is given a few instructions.

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And we're off!

Once out on its own, the robot uses more than 30 sensors, including sonar and lasers to navigate its way. Stopping for obstacles, and even opening doors on it's own.

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Going down

The TUG robots can even navigate between floors. Able to communicate with the elevators, robots can call an elevator to its location.

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Helping with food delievry

When an order comes into the kitchen, it is prepared, and then loaded onto one of the TUG robots, which then meets a nurse outside the correct room for serving.

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7 of 10 James Martin/CNET

UCSF's TUG robots

Here, two TUG robots -- outfitted with individually secure compartments for drug delivery -- wait at their charging station within UCSF Medical Center.

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8 of 10 James Martin/CNET

Fingerprint scanning security

The TUGs can be customized and reconfigured for special purposes. Here we see the security capabilities that enable drug-carrying robots to be more secure, including a numeric keypad and fingerprint scanning.

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Individual medicine delivery

Jeanette Lam, a pharmacy assistant at UCSF Medical Center, has accessed an individual compartment in one of the robots using the fingerprint identification system.

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10 of 10 James Martin/CNET

Step aside, sir

The UCSF Medical Center children's, women's and cancer hospital at Mission Bay in San Francisco will open February 1, 2015. And while you're there, you might just get some help from a new robot friend.

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