One day robots may have their own brains—but until then, why not implant a human brain into a robot chassis? Sound messy? Nah. Just outfit a robot with a microphone, camera, screen, Internet connection, a doctor on the other end, and Bob’s your uncle. You’ve got a robot/doctor hybrid that can tirelessly make the rounds at hospitals across the country in a single day.
InTouch Health and iRobot’s RP-Vita telepresence is just such a robot/doctor hybrid. The companies showed off the bot at CES 2013 and earned PC Magazine’s Best Robot honors. Now, after successful trials in 2012, they plan to take RP-Vita mainstream. According to the companies, RP-Vita recently received FDA approval for use in hospitals—the first autonomous healthcare robot to gain such approval.