We all know that robots are taking over the world as we know at the speed of light; and we are required to trust robots with delicate tasks like surgeries to the carriage of our expensive equipment. But this new robot calls for trust that even staunchest of tech supporters will hesitate in!
According to the latest research at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, robots could eventually be used in as important roles as delivering your baby and assigning duties in labor wards. Currently, robots are being employed in hospitals, but they are limited to less critical and mundane tasks like allotting medication to the patients. But can the robots work in a time critical, high pressure situation and be capable enough to cater for the patient needs and make assignment decisions?
The researchers at MIT’s CSAIL have been working on this very phenomenon for the past two years to determine whether robots can be more than just helpful companions and contribute towards real-time applications.
Currently, MIT researchers are experimenting to watch whether a robot can work as a practical “resource nurse.” This would include the duties of a nurse working in the labor and delivery unit and also being in charge of assigning other nurses to care for patients.
This will be a new breakthrough in the application of robots, as this is a very complex environment and a very hard job, according to the MIT professor Julie Shah. This will require the robots to make effective decisions in a time critical situation, e.g. deciding on which room should a patient be placed? Or which nurse should perform a C-section surgery? All of these decisions are to be made in a fast-paced, and highly unpredictable environment.
A Nao robot was utilized in the study to learn from actual nurses making scheduling and assignment decisions and then this information was processed to understand why they have made those decisions in order to try and sort out an algorithm.
The robot has to cater for the complexity of the decision making behind the task assignment to nurses, scheduling their breaks and more. Checks like determining nurses’ availability on the floor, their expertise in a particular case etc, are to be taken into account before making those decisions.
The researchers then tested the robot and its decisions for doctors and nurses in the real-time environment of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, USA. At BIDMC Boston, the robot was put in the place of a resource nurse, who usually coordinates 10 nurses, 20 patients and 20 rooms at one time. And the results of this experiments were beyond satisfactory, as 90% of the time, Nao robot made similar suggestions to what doctors and nurses carried out in actuality.
According to Professor Shah, this technology can be used in two different scenarios. It can work as an effective training tool for in training nurses and can also be used to make better and more time effective decisions in the labor section of the hospital, thus increasing performance and efficiency of operations.
The research was performed first with a computer-based support and then eventually with a robot to compare the performance of the robot with the nurses. The researchers did not observe an over-reliance on the robot, according to the Professor Shah, who also has a similar study that applying the same system to missile-defense scenarios.
How do you feel about trusting a robot with such important and critical tasks? Is this taking technology a bit too far?