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Tuesday, 19 June, 2001, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Hospital recruits robot cleaner
The talking robot will soon be seen on hospital corridors
The talking robot will soon be seen on hospital corridors
A UK hospital has come up with a novel solution to its problems recruiting cleaning staff - it is bringing in a talking robot instead.

The Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire is to introduce the 35,000 machine on Tuesday.

It will work its way, at 3mph, around the hospital corridors, and if it meets someone on its route, will politely say: "Excuse me, I'm cleaning".

The robot cleaner was originally designed for airports, and was first brought to the UK to be used at Manchester Airport last year.


Excuse me, I'm cleaning

Robot cleaner
The size of a shopping trolley, the robot only needs to be pushed around a particular route once to remember it.

Then, staff just need to push a button to send it on its way.

'Valuable team member'

The machine, which is roughly the size of a shopping trolley, uses laser scanners and ultrasonic detectors to avoid bumping into things.

Once it has finished its rounds, the robot will find its own way back to its station for recharging and fluid changes.

Richard Harman, director of assets and facilities at the hospital, said: "We are facing problems with recruiting cleaning staff like other hospitals and if this pilot with the robot cleaner works out, we believe it could become a valuable member of our cleaning team."

He added: "It means our cleaners can focus on clinical areas like keeping wards and toilets clean."

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