Robot-assisted surgery for minimally invasive procedures promises quicker recovery times, reduced pain, and minimal scarring. But the future of robotic technology in essential hospitals goes far beyond the operating table, extending to artificial intelligence and robotic tools.

Artificial Intelligence Powers UCLA Chatbot

Interventional radiologists at the University of California-Los Angeles have created RadChat, a chatbot—a computer program that simulates human conversation—to advise referring clinicians.

Using deep-learning technology modeled after the human brain, the research team fed the chatbot more than 2,000 example data points. Powered by artificial intelligence, RadChat can answer basic questions related to interventional radiology, enabling clinicians to give their patients real-time information.

RadChat can send websites, infographics, and custom programs to answer clinicians’ questions. If the bot is unable to answer a question, it sends contact information for a human interventional radiologist.

The research team presented its work at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s annual meeting in March and hopes to expand the chatbot to aid physicians in other specialties.

Henry Ford Introduces Germ-Zapping Robot

Henry Ford Health System is working to reduce hospital-acquired conditions with a germ-zapping robot.

The Xenex LightStrike Germ-Zapping Robot uses ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy bacteria, viruses, fungi, and bacterial spores. While UV light historically has been used for disinfection, this robot goes a step further, using pulsed xenon lamps to emit UV light, which fuses the DNA of microorganisms and halts reproduction.

The robot can disinfect a typical room in four- to five-minute cycles, said Jason Hammond, director of hospitality services at Henry Ford Allegiance Health. The hospital has added two staff members to work with the robots.

Young patients find a friend in MEDi

Vaccines, blood tests, dressing changes, and other procedures can be frightening for children in the hospital — but sometimes a little distraction can go a long way toward easing their fears. That’s where MEDi the robot can help.

MEDi with a patient at Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital Broward Health. Photo courtesy of Broward Health.


MEDi, short for Medicine and Engineering Design Intelligence, has been deployed at three member hospitals: Salah Foundation Children’s Hospital Broward Health, Hurley Medical Center, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

The 2-foot-tall robot is programmed to greet nervous patients with a high-five and interact with them during difficult procedures by singing songs, telling stories, and playing games. MEDi contains facial recognition software to greet each child by name and can speak in both English and Spanish. The robot can even be programmed with a child’s favorite story to help calm them down in stressful situations. Who says robots can’t have hearts?