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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 June 2007, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Robot fleet for hi-tech hospital
A hospital porter robot as used in Japan
The robots will be similar to those already in use in hospitals in Japan
A new hospital being built at Larbert in Stirlingshire will be the first in the UK to use a fleet of robots to transport goods and equipment.

The robots will run along separate corridors and use magnetic strips or infra red to find their way around.

The technology is similar to that already used in car plants and can be found in hospitals in France and Japan.

Hospital porters will still be needed to transport patients, while the robots free them from arduous or dirty tasks.

The 300m hospital at Larbert will replace Falkirk and Stirling Royal Infirmaries to provide state-of-the-art facilities for the whole Forth Valley.

It makes sense because robots can do the task more efficiently is certain cases
David Stark
Keppie Design

David Stark, a director of the architectural company Keppie Design which designed the new hospital, said: "Hospitals are a huge facilities management nightmare for people.

"Lots of materials require to get to the right place at the right time. Dirty materials, linens and so on require to be taken away and its a huge logistic exercise."

He said the idea came from visiting hospitals in Japan and France where robots were used.

"They use a mixture of robotics and manual handling. It makes sense because robots can do the task more efficiently is certain cases."

The robots will find their way about the new hospital by either following a metal strip on the floor or by infra-red sensors.

They will be separated from patients, moving down an entirely different network of corridors will be used to transport linen, waste and medical equipment.

Work on the new hospital is expected to be completed by December 2009.

The robots will be used for dirty and heavy work

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