Healthcare Technology Featured Article

January 25, 2013

iRobot Gets FDA Approval for Hospital Robot Use in America

After extensive testing and researching, the joint venture between iRobot and InTouch Health has finally received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), making its robot creation the first ever to be used in hospitals.  

 “RP-VITA has undergone stringent testing, and we are confident that the robot’s ease of use and unique set of capabilities will enable new clinical applications and uses,” said Yulun Wang, chairman and CEO of InTouch Health.

The robot, also known as Remote Presence Virtual Independent Telemedicine Assistant (RP-VITA), received the 510(K) clearance from the FDA and can be used for active patient monitoring in pre-operative, peri-operative, and post-operative situations.

“FDA clearance of a robot that can move safely and independently through a fast-paced, chaotic and demanding hospital environment is a significant technological milestone for the robotics and healthcare industries,” said Colin Angle, chairman and CEO of iRobot.

The RP-VITA will feature state-of-the-art telemedicine and record integration, and will allow for remote doctor-to-patient consultations. The robot’s software will be sophisticated enough to map out its own environment and control its sensors to maneuver around crowded areas without interfering with objects or the person around it.

“There are very few environments as difficult to maneuver as that of a busy ICU or emergency department. Having crossed this technology threshold, the potential for self-navigating robots in other markets, and for new applications, is virtually limitless,” added Angle.

The machine itself will be about as tall as the average human and be integrated with a monitor and a web cam for the remote doctor consultations. The RP-VITA will also be fitted with a built-in stethoscope, allowing doctors to perform ear examinations.

The robot will also include an iPad interface, allowing doctors to constantly keep in touch with their patients, as well as staff. The RP-VITA will undoubtedly revolutionize the robotic telemedicine field, but not without a steep price. The machine is estimated to cost between $4,000 to $6,000 a month to operate.

Edited by Ashley Caputo

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