Robot Spongebath: Wash My Shiny Human Ass
November 10th, 2010
I suppose if you’re a nurse, the idea of having to wash various and sundry body parts for patients is one of the less pleasant parts of the job. Sure, it’s slightly above changing bedpans or shaving privates, but it’s still a little weird, I’m sure. So leave it to the miracle of modern science to create a robot that washes patients, so nurses won’t have to.
Researchers at the Healthcare Robotics Lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology have designed a prototype robot that can help patients maintain personal hygiene without need to a human nurse. The machine currently dons a washcloth in its grippy hand and uses a camera and laser range finder to figure the dirty spots to clean. The secret-sauce of this ‘bot, of course, is its ability to be gentle enough not to injure the patient it’s cleaning.
At this point, the robot still requires a human operator to tell it the general area to clean, but I can certainly envision a day when these things will drive up and down the hallways of hospitals, offering car wash-like services to patients. Maybe they’ll even teach it to give patients a Happy Ending for an extra charge. Look it up.