Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Panasonic Unveils Robotic Drug Dispenser

Panasonic's first foray into the robot business is a machine that sorts and distributed medications to patients. It isn't developed to look humanoid -- it more resembles a cabinet with drawers, according to a company spokesperson. Pharmacists put drugs in, and the machine sorts and distributes them to patients based on stored medical data.
said Tuesday has developed a medical robot that dispenses drugs to patients, the Japanese electronics giant's first step into robotics.

Panasonic will sell the robot to Japanese hospitals next March and will market it in the United States and Europe later. Panasonic spokesperson Akira Kadota said the robot will cost several tens of millions of yen (hundreds of thousands of US dollars).

"This robot is the first in our robotics project. It sorts out injection drugs to patients, saving time for pharmacists," said Kadota.

The robot does not look humanoid. "It looks like a cabinet with lots of small drawers," he said.

Pharmacists put drugs into the robot, which stores medical data for patients. The robot will then sort out drugs for each patient and place them into respective drawers bearing the names of patients.

Osaka-based Panasonic hopes annual revenue from the robot and other medical robotics will reach 30 billion yen ($315 million) in the financial year to March 2016.

Japan boasts one of the leading robotics industries in the world, and the government is pushing to develop the industry as a road to growth. Automaker Honda Motor has developed the child-sized Asimo, which can walk and talk.

Earlier this year, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, a government-backed organization, revealed a walking, talking robot with a female face. However, it hasn't cleared safety standards and cannot yet help humans with daily chores.

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