WATCH:

Ohio River rising prompts flood warnings for areas

Meet Rosie, Hal, R2-D2 and WALL-E -- robots roaming the halls of this local hospital


You aren’t seeing things. That cart is moving itself ... sort of. 

RosieHalR2-D2 and WALL-E, four TUG autonomous mobile delivery robots from Pittsburgh-based Aethon, have been roaming around Kettering Medical Center for more than three weeks now. 

David Starkey, Kettering Health Network’s director of materials management and biomedical engineering, said the robots serve as “assistive staff” to the 22 members of his materials team at the hospital. 

>> Pizza delivery robots are coming to Ohio

The robots are named for pop culture robots: Rosie from “The Jetsons,” R2-D2 from the “Star Wars” series, Hal from “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Wall-E from the film the Disney film “WALL-E.” 

>> Where to see movies in Dayton 

The robots are decorated with oversized eyelashes, googly eyes and lush eyebrows that are far more than on fleek. 

“The (materials and nutrition) staff named them, and they had kind of a fun time doing that,” Starkey said. “The staff is enjoying this.” 

>> Alex Trebek says a little prayer after ‘Jeopardy!’ contestants bomb Dayton question 

Last week alone, the robots made 650 deliveries and traveled more than 110 miles using a sensor mapping system that is unseen by human eyes. 

“That’s a lot of tennis shoe time. What we are doing is trying to make (staff members’) jobs better,” Starkey told us. “We can have them doing other things rather than making so many trips through the hospital.” 

Each robot costs about $1,400 a month, can plug itself in for recharging and can work up to 20 hours a day. 

The cost to the hospital is about $2 or $3 each an hour. 

Thus far, the TUGs are used to deliver supplies ranging from Band-Aids to bedding to the main hospital’s five floors and the five-story Kettering Cancer Center. 

Those facilities are linked by a sky bridge which the robots navigate. They can also call elevators to use on their delivery rounds and sense objects in their path. 

“They can do deliveries in a couple of different ways,” Starkey said. “(We can deliver carts) with bins of supplies for actually stocking the nursing units, or we can send up supplies with individual bins that are labeled with a unit name. It will actually deliver it right to their nurse’s station.” 

The robots will be even busier soon. 

In a matter of weeks, the hospital plans to start using the robots to deliver food to floors, said Cheryl Shimmin, the network director of nutrition services for Kettering Health Network. 

Floor ambassadors will be used to deliver food to patient rooms. Shimmin said that the hope is to better serve patients and to reduce staff injuries. 

“The TUGs make it easier on the employees,” she said. 

Kettering is the first hospital in the region to have us TUGs, but Starkey said they can be found in about 400 medical facilities throughout the country delivering supplies, food and equipment.

Kettering, which has eight hospitals plus the cancer center, plans to introduce TUGs next in Soin Medical Center in Beavercreek. 

Starkey learned about the TUG on the Internet while plans were underway for the cancer center, which opened in 2016. 

Some hospital leaders thought Starkey and Shimmin were joking when they introduced the idea of using robots to make delivers. They soon realized how robots can be useful, Starkey said. 

The robots are monitored by computer in the materials department, and if they get stuck in a jam, can be moved remotely by Aethon. 

The first week they were introduced, they carried chocolate for nurses along with the supplies delivers. Starkey said nurses might also find a surprise for Valentine’s Day, as well. 

So far, he said the robots have been big hits with hospital visitors. Their whimsical names have helped give them personality. 

“Everybody wanted to take a picture with them,” Starkey said. “They really like Rosie because she has the eyelashes.”

>> Pizza rolls, spaetzle and mashed potatoes on a sandwich? Where you can indulge this month


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Woman sends man to hospital with bite wounds
Woman sends man to hospital with bite wounds

Police here are investigating a biting incident that sent a man to the hospital.  Dayton police around just before noon Monday a male homeowner in the 1300 block of Swisher Avenue, let a female acquaintance into his home.  The woman then asked for money followed by a ride. When the man declined to provide either to the woman, she...
How would local baseball players do against international competition? Here’s how one pastor plans to find out
How would local baseball players do against international competition? Here’s how one pastor plans to find out

A local pastor and Hamilton High School graduate is looking to take several baseball players on a mission trip to Nicaragua in order to connect with churches and players there so they can have the opportunity to better themselves on and off the field. Curtus Moak, lead pastor at the Hamilton Christian Center (HCC), was a standout baseball player in...
A program with a twist on bike sharing is coming to Butler County
A program with a twist on bike sharing is coming to Butler County

If you do not own a bike and sometimes think you might want to take one for a spin, your chance could come this spring as orange Spin bikes are introduced to the Miami campus and local community. It’s the culmination of a four-year process for three college seniors graduating this May with a dream to introduce bike sharing. Unlike some bikeshare...
These local law enforcement officials survived being shot. Here are their stories.
These local law enforcement officials survived being shot. Here are their stories.

Since January, 12 law enforcement officer across the county have been shot and killed, including two veteran officers killed in Westerville on Saturday while they responded to an apparent domestic situation. The events brought back chilling memories for officers in Butler County, where two shootings have occurred in recent history. Both law enforcement...
NC woman thanks 'guardian angel' after huge tree crashes through bedroom 
NC woman thanks 'guardian angel' after huge tree crashes through bedroom 

Three people living in a North Carolina home are grateful to be alive after a massive tree crashed through their house overnight. The enormous tree fell about 3:45 a.m. on the northwest Charlotte home. The force of the impact flattened a portion of the house and sheared off a section of roof. Three cousins who were renting the house...
More Stories