Medical science has become one of the largest industries in the civilized world. There are many possible ways in which robots might be used in this industry. The most likely scenario involves a mobile robotic attendant or nurse’s assistant.


A robotic paranurse (nurse’s assistant) might roll along on three or four wheels mounted in its base. Operation of the robot can be supervised from the nurses’ station. This robot works very much like a personal robot. It can deliver meals, pick up the trays, and dispense medication in pill form. A robotic paranurse can also, at least in theory, take measurements of a patient’s vital signs (temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration rate).

In the body

Robotic devices can be used as artificial limbs. This allows amputees and paraplegics to function almost as if they had never been injured.

A more radical notion conceived by some robotics researchers involves the manufacture of robot antibodies. These microscopic creatures could be injected into a patient’s bloodstream, and would go around seeking out viruses or bacteria and destroying them. The robot controller could be programmed to cause the tiny machines to go after only a certain type of microorganism. Some researchers have suggested that organic compounds might be assembled molecule by molecule to make biological robots.


One of the more interesting applications of robots in medicine is to entertain the patient. This is where artificial intelligence (AI) becomes important. For children, robots can play simple games and read stories. For adults, robots can read aloud and carry on conversations.

The chief argument used against medical robots holds that sick people need a human touch, which a machine cannot provide. The counterargument asserts that medical robots are not intended to replace human doctors and nurses, but only to take up some of the slack, helping to relieve patients’ boredom while freeing human beings to look after more critical things. Some patients, especially children, find robots immensely entertaining.Anyone who has stayed in a hospital for more than a couple of days knows how tedious it can become. A robot that can tell a few good jokes can brighten any patient’s day.

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