A floor-cleaning robot that can tell jokes and sing songs is being trialled on a children’s ward in the UK.
Trust managers claim the machine has the dual benefit of amusing and distracting young patients while also freeing up cleaners to focus on sanitising Covid-19 touch-points.
Built by LionsBot, the robot – named Ella – has been trialled by the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.
Assistant general manager for facilities at the trust Sarah Gray said: “Ella has put a smile on the faces of some of our youngest patients. We are now looking at leasing the robots which will help to free up our domestic cleaners.”
Jokes in Ella’s repertoire include: “How do trees access the internet? They log on.” The robot then “laughs” at its own joke via a speaker system while its head shakes and its LED eyes crinkle up to portray amusement.
Ella robots are controlled via a smartphone app and feature integrated sensors which allow them to detect and avoid obstacles. After completing their assigned duties they self-dock and auto-charge ready for their next shift.
The NHS Trust hopes to employ the robots to clean the floors of the reception areas in both its hospitals. Using robots for floor-cleaning is said to allow human cleaners more time to sanitise touch points to help the spread of COVID-19.
The plan is to redeploy the robots on to the children’s wards in summer to entertain the children when virus levels are expected to ease.
Source: European Cleaning Journal