Saturday, April 08, 2006

Robot on the medical team

Robot on the medical team : "RONI, the newest staff member in the neurosurgery ICU at UCLA Medical Center, is a popular fellow. Perhaps it's his unusual appearance that makes him a standout among the ICU's caregivers, especially when he's escorting visitors on tours. Standing 5-feet-7 inches tall, RONI weighs in at a hefty 227 pounds. But he has no arms and his rectangular head is just inches thick.

Though he acts like one, RONI is not a human. His name stands for 'robot of the neurosurgical intensive care unit.' Since last September, he's been tending to patients in the eight-bed ICU under the guidance of Neil Martin, M.D., chief of neurosurgery. RONI has become the alter ego of Martin, who can control the robot remotely from either his home or office. With RONI serving as his eyes and ears, Martin can talk to patients and nurses from afar. 'At first, people are amused or self-conscious, but within a few seconds they forget it is a robot and the conversation becomes personal and realistic,' Martin says."

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