Japan hospitals hire robots as nurses

Little by little, robots are infiltrating into areas heretofore unexpected. Even for a nation as obsessed with everything robotic such as Japan, a robot replacing a hospital nurse does seem a little bit over the top.

But such is not the case at a company called Kokoro Co. Ltd where a new nurse robot named Actroid-F has come upon the scene. It can perform human-like movements although they are still a bit jerky at this early stage in development.

Designed to provide patients with companionship during their hospital stays, simulating an intangible bedside manner is difficult. This android works by means of mimicry; the operator makes facial expressions, which are then simultaneously imitated by Actroid-F.

Actroid-F is not alone in the world, although she is the first robot-nurse in Japan. Robots have also been used with considerable success in many American hospitals where they dispense medication, make deliveries and visit patients.

Known as Robot-Rx, this automated system ensures that the right medicine reaches the right patient. It stores and dispenses single doses of drugs for entire hospitals.

Pharmacists enter prescriptions into the computer, the robot collects the dosage by scanning the barcodes, and bags them, while keeping track of all medications.