Moxi, the friendly robotic hospital assistant.

Recent years have seen robots taking on all manner of tasks from driving cars to flipping burgers, and now Moxi is here to lend a hand as a responsive hospital assistant. No, robots won’t be setting bones or issuing diagnoses, but they’re sure to make a significant difference for those who do.

Select hospitals, reportedly including Texas Health Dallas, University of Texas Medical Branch, and Houston Methodist Hospital, saw the debut of their latest employees, a series of robots called Moxi, designed to facilitate the locating and delivery of essential medical supplies to staff as required. However, Moxi is far more than a simple delivery system, boasting social intelligence and complex navigation. This doesn’t mean that Moxi is designed for conversation or to answer complex questions, but it can follow basic collection orders and is designed to respond to requests and greet passers-by in the hall.

Using robots to collect supplies from within the building may not seem like the greatest use of technology. However, according to a video released by Diligent Robotics, nurses can typically spend up to 30% of their time searching for supplies for patients. As such, Moxi can offer relief from fatigue to hospital employees. This means a higher quality of work and less stress for nurses and doctors. Many hospitals worldwide are critically short-staffed and, with robot assistants, the aim is not to replace human workers, but to support them.

Moxi is still very much in its trial phase, testing its efficiency and its ability to interact smoothly in real hospital environments. This early model could prove to be a pioneering piece of technology which one day sees hospitals running efficiently as a collaborative effort between humans and machines.