Autonomous Mobile Robot for Hospitals
Gerald Seet, R.S. Senanayake and Eicher Low
School of Mechanical & Production Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Nanyang Avenue, Singapore 2263
In recent years, the AGV has been making its way out of the traditional manufacturing and warehouse environments into newer application areas such as hospitals. This is in no small part due to the shortage of nursing and ancillary staff, and to the increase in the cost of employing and training such personnel. The freeing of hospital staff from mundane tasks also enhances job value and frees personnel to patient care. Experimental systems have been applied to the transfer of meals, documents, and other materials. These systems were developed based on general-purpose mobile vehicle platforms, modified for hospital application. However, the different constraints imposed by a hospital environment result in a less than optimum design. An omni-directional vehicle (ODV) has been specifically designed for hospital application. The compact size allows the vehicle to maneuver within the tight corridors of a hospital with minimum interference to other users. The steering-drive unit located at each corner provides steering and drive through differential velocity control of the wheels, and its modular design enables easy maintenance and repair. This paper identifies the unique requirements imposed by the hospital environment and explains how the vehicle has been designed to meet and exploit the unique features of such a situation.