A Nao robot has been programmed to help out in the delivery room at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.
They've been conducting experiments to see if a robot can serve as an effective "resource nurse." That's the nurse in the labor and delivery unit that's in charge of assigning other nurses to care for patients.
"It is really one person making these decisions. It's a very complex environment and a very hard job," said MIT professor Julie Shah, the senior author of the study. The job requires effective decision making -- which room should a patient be assigned to? Which nurse should perform a C-section? -- in a fast-paced, often unpredictable environment.
To conduct the study, the researchers trained a Nao robot to learn from nurses' scheduling decisions and to understand why they made those decisions opposed to the alternatives.
The robot takes into account the complexity of patients assigned to particular nurses, break schedules and more. It can also determine nurses' availability on the floor.
The researchers then had the robot make suggestions for doctors and nurses in Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. At Beth Israel, the resource nurse coordinates 10 nurses, 20 patients and 20 rooms at the same time, according to the study's authors.
Science fiction fans know where this will lead, but do doctors?
(Padme delivery scene in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith)