Robots Invade Honda, UAH College of Nursing

In what sounds like the plot to a summer blockbuster, robots were spotted in August roving the hallways of both the Honda Manufacturing of Alabama plant in Talladega County and the University of Alabama in Huntsville College of Nursing.

At UAH, four telehealth robots named Charger Blue I, II, III and IV were launched to assist nursing students with clinical simulation training and research collaborations. The mobile robots, consisting of an iPad installed atop a mini Segway, were made possible by a grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama Foundation, says Nursing Dean Marsha Howell Adams. 

The rolling technology can be used to call in healthcare providers to train students and for offsite faculty and research collaborations across disciplines and across the globe. Using a computer or cell phone, health providers can pilot the robots around a patient’s bedside to make observations, ask questions, change or initiate prescriptions or give instructions to providers who are physically present. The health provider’s face appears on the iPad, adding a more human element to the interactions. 

Meanwhile, Honda’s innovative humanoid robot, ASIMO, made an appearance in early August as part of the Honda facility’s Family Open House. Formally known as Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, ASIMO climbed stairs, danced and kicked a soccer ball to the delight of visiting youngsters.

ASIMO, like a lot of smart phones, runs on a rechargeable lithium ion battery, though at 13 pounds, the battery rides in the robot’s backpack. Honda developed the humanoid for display all over the world to inspire students in their studies of science, technology and engineering. 

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More than 15, 000 Honda employees, family members and friends attended the open house.

Text by Dave Helms

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