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Health Care Robotics, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

While robotics are revolutionizing the manufacturing, fulfillment and hospitality industries, the next revolution may well be in health care, in terms of both service robots for tasks like cleaning and deliveries to patients’ rooms and highly advanced devices in the form of surgical robots and robotic limbs for patients who have lost arms or legs.  
One company on the forefront is Parker Hannifin Corp. which has a long history of motion and control technologies and systems used in construction, factory equipment and aircraft.  Its newest venture is the Indego exoskeleton.  Weighing in at about 26 pounds, Indego is a set of motorized braces that help paralyzed or otherwise disabled people walk by supporting, moving and bending their legs.  Another firm, ReWalk Robotics, has a similar device called the ReWalk Personal 6.0.
Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins University is working on robotic arms that have 26 joints, can lift up to 45 pounds and are controlled by the wearer’s mind.  In order to communicate with the devices, patients will likely require surgery to remap nerve endings to allow brain signals to reach the prosthetics.  For more on the project, see
The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) reported a 23% growth in the sales of medical robots during 2021 over 2020, with the number of shipments reaching 14,823 units.  The most important of these devices are used in robot-assisted surgery and other patient therapies.
Robotic surgery has also become common, especially in minimally invasive procedures.  The technology utilizes cameras and mechanical arms wielding surgical instruments controlled by a human surgeon, typically via a small incision.  The surgeon uses a console which displays images from the camera in high-definition, magnified, 3-D view.  For example, the da Vinci Surgical System ( is used in a variety of procedures to treat cardiac, colorectal, gynecological, head and neck, thoracic and urological problems.
Meanwhile, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. began instituting a network of automated, centralized drug fulfillment centers in the U.S. in 2022.  The facilities utilize robots to fill prescriptions and small automated cars to move filled prescription bottles from conveyor belts to trucks for shipment.  Walgreens reports that the system will save more than $1 billion per year.  The firm is a major investor in iA, a pharmacy automation software company that operates approximately 1,000 fulfillment centers in the U.S.  Walgreens’ goal is to fill 40% to 50% of all prescriptions at centralized facilities.  Robotic systems are utilized by a growing number of pharmacy companies.

Robotics in the Medical Field
=         Robotics are enhancing the efficiency of human workers while making them safer at work.
=         Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) are moving supplies, such as sterilized items, through hospital corridors—this is particularly valuable inside of quarantine areas.
=         Robotic arms are handling samples of blood and other items for testing.
=         Mobile robots, including Omron’s LD Series, are navigating hospital areas, sanitizing on the go via ultraviolet light.

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