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DCE’s team has designed Helios, a system enabling robotic, self-driving hospital beds

Helios is a system enabling robotic, self-driving hospital beds, combined with social distancing sensors, to safeguard hospital staff when moving infectious patients around hospitals.

DCE has utilised its experience in the military, agricultural and nuclear industries to repurpose its technology to respond to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

The Helios system works by retrofitting a drive control system to an existing hospital bed and giving an accompanying staff member a sensor to wear. The staff member walks three metres ahead of the bed and the sensor tells the bed to follow, guiding it safely through the hospital building. This means a second staff member does not need to be pushing the bed/accompanying the patient and so reduces the number of people needed to transport a patient by 50%, also halving the risk of virus exposure to hospital staff and freeing up staff to focus on other tasks.

The advantages to the healthcare provider and patient are:

  • inexpensive bed retrofit and easy to wear sensor
  • fifty per cent reduction of infection risk to hospital staff
  • fifty per cent increase in staff utilisation
  • no need to buy new, self-driving hospital beds
  • reduces the effect of staff shortages due to catching the infection
  • safe and efficient transfer of patients within the hospital building
  • swift solution to a dangerous problem

The successful Helios project drew on DCE’s experience and hands-on approach to problem-solving.  DCE quickly and cheaply found a solution to a highly complex technological need, using existing components/systems and putting them together in a new in order.

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