In Charlotte, North Carolina, award-winning Levine Children’s Hospital has employed robots to aid patient recovery.
On any given day, you’ll find three robots accompanying medical staff on their daily tasks, carrying an assortment of tools, gifts, or equipment for delivery around the hospital. These multi-colored bots are called Gita.
The Gita (pronounced jee-tah) is a robot from Italian company Piaggio Fast Forward, which is most notable for inventing the Vespa scooter. The company specializes in creating advanced mobility solutions that improve the everyday lives of the community.
Gita is a 2-foot tall cargo-carrying robot built to follow humans around and, well, carry our stuff. It was initially marketed as a personal robot meant to transport things like gym bags, groceries, baby accessories, and so on, so families or groups of people are able to walk and travel distances without worrying about where they’re going to store their things.
It’s equipped with camera sensors at the front, which allow the Gita to “pair” with humans. Once it familiarizes the shape and outline of its “pair,” it’s able to follow them around at a distance of 3 feet.
Since its launch in 2017, Gita has vastly improved its features and is now being used in airports for contactless food delivery.
Levine Children’s Hospital is the first medical facility in the country to employ the use of Gita for hospital-wide contactless delivery, like donations and prizes for the patients.
Apart from improving efficiency within the hospital through contactless delivery of goods, the Gita robots also have a positive effect on the patients’ overall mood.
This is most likely due to the novelty of such devices, which can pique the interest of the young patients, especially those who have been living in the hospital for months to years. According to Meredith Dean, who manages the hospital’s media center, Seacrest Studios, long-term cancer patients visibly light up whenever Gita visits their room.
“Since these kids have never seen anything like this, they just get so excited at something different than their every day,” Dean shared. “It seems like it’s really helping the overall mood, I think, for patients and families in a really tough situation, and even staff. I just love seeing people get excited and smile and go, ‘Whoa! What is that thing?'”
Apart from being able to carry 40 lbs. of cargo and coming in multiple colors, the Gita has a Bluetooth speaker that can play music, something that can brighten up the hospital halls.
What makes the Gita a valuable addition to the staff isn’t just its mobility and cargo-carrying abilities. Since it doesn’t store data or photos, it can track human movements without endangering patient confidentiality.
However, for now, Levine Children’s says three Gita robots are enough for the staff. What they are curious about is if other hospitals adopt the same methods.
“We’ll be interested to see if this creates a ripple effect with other Seacrest Studios or hospitals across the country,” adds Meredith Dean.